“The creation of beauty is art.” I love art: both as a beholder and a creator; and this is not a discourse as would be adduced by an Art Historian; rather, my affecting reaction to the exquisite Raphael exhibition at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum.
I stood transfixed by these incomparable pictures in the company of Mel (we did our Masters together), who is a dear friend, and also an art lover.
The drawings are unequivocally stirring, and and the observer is swept up in love, tenderness, terror and compassion in equal measure when existing, for a mere few hours, in the Renaissance world of this Master.
The raw terror suffered by the subjects of Massacre of the Innocents, equally poignant to me; this observation: “…the baby’s eyes are little dots and it lolls as if dead in her arms…” augmented the terror, in the knowing of the inevitable conclusion; and it is important to note that Raphael, purely through delineation of affectivity, related violence and cruelty sans glorification.
Raphael’s own gentleness is divulged in his mothers and children; which have been said to be his most demonstrative, and it has been hypothesised that this was a manifestation of his being orphaned young.
Touching synergy is perceptible in A Man Carrying An Older Man on His Back, where the interchange is witnessed not in facial countenance; rather, posture: the older man surrenders himself — and his life — unconditionally, in trust, to the command of the younger.
Infinite wonder is is realised via both perceptual discernment and virtuosity on the part of Raphael.
“Every artist was first an amateur.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, Progress of Culture
Perhaps so; but, not Raphael…