Columbus Museum of Art
July 15–October 30, 2022
The Columbus Museum of Art is proud to be the only American venue for the exhibition Raphael—The Power of Renaissance Images: The Dresden Tapestries and their Impact, on display from July 15 through October 30, 2022. The exhibition is centered around six tapestries, woven in the 17th century, on loan from the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery of Dresden), Germany, one of Europe’s most renowned museums.
Working in partnership with the Old Masters Picture Gallery (part of the Dresden State Art Collections) located in Columbus’s sister-city of Dresden, CMA will present for the first time to American audiences these monumental and historically significant works, woven directly from cartoons (painted compositions) by the Renaissance master Raphael. The Dresden tapestries underwent extensive restoration in the 1990s but had not been on display since 2008. Following their début in an exhibition for European audiences at the Dresden Gallery last year, this will be the tapestries’ first ever trip to the United States. The exhibition focuses on the creation of the Dresden tapestries and introduces their various patrons and owners through the centuries—in particular, Charles I, King of England, and Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland—while also highlighting Raphael’s broad impact and influence on later artists.
Around 1516 Raphael completed his cartoons for tapestries commissioned to hang in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican. The Dresden tapestries are one of several sets woven from Raphael’s cartoons after his death. Each tapestry depicts a scene from the New Testament book of the Acts of the Apostles, focused on the lives of St. Peter and St. Paul. Their inspired themes and powerful style inspired future generations of artists for centuries to come. The tapestries’ impact is examined in the second part of the exhibition, which includes drawings by the hand of Raphael that were studies for his cartoons. Numerous other works—paintings, prints, drawings, and ceramic ware—were created by artists influenced by Raphael’s designs. Noted renaissance and baroque masters such as Rubens and Poussin are represented in the exhibition. The final section focuses on the journey of the cartoons and tapestries through the centuries and across geographic boundaries. Portraits of major figures like Charles I and Augustus the Strong in both painting and sculpture highlight their respective roles in preserving the timeless legacy of the Raphael tapestries.
An accompanying catalogue, published in both German and English editions, provides a deeper examination and explores the art-historical legacy of the tapestries. Essays by noted scholars provide detailed discussions of the conception, creation, and restoration of the tapestries, as well as their reception across time. Raphael—The Power of Renaissance Images is a testament to the importance of the visual arts, especially textiles, as fundamental components in the understanding of history and culture. The Columbus Museum of Art is proud to bring these extraordinary works to new American audiences.