§1-4 Raphael – Still, artists have to be self-absorbed

§1 Raphael Sanzio – Self-Portrait (1504-1506)


Exhibition title: Raphael
Venue: Tokyo European Art Museum
Term: March 3 – June 2, 2013

A self-portrait of Raphael Sanzio when he was approxiamtely 21 – 23 years old. It is said that the picture was painted while he was in his hometown, Ulbino, during the era when he was lived and worked in Florence. Although the authenticity of the painting had been disputed, it has been proven that there can be little doubt that this is not an authentic work due to a recent scientific inquiry.

Courtesy: Ufizi Museum in Florence




I think there are numerous self-portraits of painters. Does that mean many of them are narcissists?



Basically, I guess, they love themselves while they are painting. This can be the same for self-destructive artists such as Francis Bacon. Still, artists have to be self-absorbed to create a piece of art of any kind.




Then the painter of this portrait must have been very self-confident.





Agreed. The model seems to say “isn’t it enough if you just appreciate my face” while looking at the body parts that are roughly painted. Imagining such a painter’s distorted emotion is also enjoyable.




By the way, I noticed that his neck is oddly depicted.



Yes, it is unusually swollen. Actually, that is another reason I focused on this painting. When I looked at it while moving from side to side, his eyesight seemed kept following me, twisting his neck. That might be the painter’s intention.





I had the impression that Raphael of the Renaissance period developed a very representational style.



Me, too. Actually, there was no other painting whose model’s body was drastically distorted. I guess Raphael had an experimental spirit from an early age. What if he was doing his painting to support his livelihood while suppressing his avant-garde spirit? Then, if he lived longer, his painting style would have drastically changed. He may have been playful on this painting as it wasn’t a commissioned work, just his personal self-portrait.
Finally, I think this is a unique piece of art, though not a masterpiece. What if he could not tell anyone even to the very end about his spirit of rebellion? The tears become an expression of his hidden self-suppression. That’s very nice, very inspiring…




Oh well, you’ll likely be living much longer than Raphael, I promise.






Raphael’s Columns










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