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DateEvent
06 May 2020Raphael and Michelangelo: Rivals in Rome
13 March 2019Bernini and Baroque Rome
14 March 2018From Can-Can to Soup Can
15 November 2017Treasures of the National Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern
15 March 2017The Honourable East India Company and East/West Trade: Chintz, Chinese Export and Chinoiserie, 1600-1800
16 November 2016The Beauty of Frames
16 March 2016Photography as Fine Art
18 November 2015India-Rajasthan. The Great Moghuls; The European Legacy

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Raphael and Michelangelo: Rivals in Rome Sian Walters Wednesday 06 May 2020

This special interest morning has been cancelled. This results from the Government restrictions to contain the COVID-19 epidemic.

We are refunding those who have bought tickets for this event.


Raphael is often referred to as one of the three giants of the High Renaissance in Italy, alongside Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, yet his fame and position in the canon of art history may seem hard to explain. He made no discoveries like those of his celebrated rivals: although undoubtedly a draughtsman of exceptional talent he made no great progress in the fields of anatomy, science and construction nor did he share the wide-ranging talents which Leonardo and Michelangelo demonstrated in so many disciplines. Furthermore, his career was short-lived as he died tragically young, aged 37. Yet in this relatively short space of time Raphael managed to move from humble initial commissions in and around his home town of Urbino to the covetous position of one of the leading artists at the court of the most important patron in Italy, Pope Julius II, for whom he created some of the most sublime and influential frescoes of the early 16th century. We explore how Raphael achieved this extraordinary rise in status, tracing the development of early works and influences to the masterpieces created in Rome.

In her second talk, Sian explores the work of Michelangelo in Rome and his rivalry with contemporary artists, with particular reference to the question of art criticism and how a particular writer may have shaped our understanding of artists over time. Probably one of the most interesting relationships is that of Michelangelo and the author Giorgio Vasari, who in 1550 published “The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects”, one of the most important and influential books ever to be written about art. It contains a comprehensive and highly favourable biography of Michelangelo. Nevertheless some of the facts were contested, resulting in a subsequent biography written (probably under the influence of the artist himself) by Ascanio Condivi in 1553. We explore differences in the two texts, as well as Vasari’s biographies of Raphael and Sebastiano. 

This special interest morning will be an excellent introduction to the blockbuster Raphael exhibition at the National Gellery this autumn.

Sian Walters studied at Cambridge University. She is a lecturer at the National Gallery and The Wallace Collection and taught at Surrey University, specialising in 15th and 16th century Italian painting, Spanish art & architecture, and the relationship between dance and art. She also teaches private courses and organises lectures, study days and art holidays abroad. She has lived in France and Italy, where she worked at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice.

Doors open at 9.30am and the event begins at 10.00am and finishes at 1.00pm, with tea, coffee and biscuits served in an interval.