Sposalizio (The Betrothal of the Virgin), 1831
After Raphael's painting. Published by Nicola Bianchi impresse
Engraving. 818 x 552 mm
Inventory number: E530
Works, relating to this work: Raphael, Lo Sposalizio, 1504, Tempera on wood, The Brera Pinacotek, Milan. Formerly executed to Chiesa di San Francesco, Città di Castello, Itlay, where it has been replaced by a copyEnlarge photo
Raphael’s (1483-1520) Sposalizio or The Betrothal of the Virgin from 1504, reproduced here in Pietro Folo’s print, was commissioned for the Franciscan church of San Francesco in Città di Castello in Perugia. All the figures and lines in the picture are arranged in such a way that attention is inevitably directed towards the hand of the Virgin and St Joseph – the central point of the ceremonial act of betrothal. This is still clearer in the painting than in this engraving because the upper edge in the painting is semi-circular, not straight as it is here. As the painting hung in the church, it was in a relatively high position. The lower edge of the painting was some 180 cm above floor level, a position that was of great significance for the experience of it. In the print, the woman on the left stands skewed, but this enabled Raphael to achieve the optimal spatial effect when the painting was viewed from below.
During the first decades of the 19th century, when Folo made this print, there was a great deal of interest in Raphael’s works. For instance, a group of German artists resident in Rome wanted to renew religious painting. This renewal was to be achieved through the simplicity that was precisely one of the qualities they admired in Raphael’s works.