Raffaello Sanzio (attributed to) - inv. 4129

Attributed to Raffaello Sanzio (1484-1520)

Processional Cross with Franciscan Saints
1500 c.
tempera on wood  
46,8 x 33 cm
1973 donation Margherita Visconti Venosta
Inv. 4129

Visconti Venosta Room
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  On one side the painting shows Christ crucified surrounded by the Virgin, the Saints John the Evangelist, Mary Magdalene and Peter. On the other side, as well as the figure of Christ you can see Saints Francis, Chiara, Louis of Toulouse and Anthony of Padua. Since they are four Franciscan saints, it has been suggested that the work was commissioned by a convent of the Franciscan order, and possible a female one, given the presence of Saint Chiara and the Virgin’s nun-like dress.
In the few available centimetres, the artist has inserted slight variations in the poses of the figures, getting an animated effect. Note the tiny tongues of flame burning between Saint Anthony’s fingers; the ribbon in Saint Mary Magdalene’s hair that curls twice around her arm; or the folds in the mantles of Saint Peter and Saint John making them seem almost like Roman orators. The same classical mark can be found in the body of Christ, modelled through delicate passages of light and shade that highlight his anatomy and volume.

This recalls Piero della Francesca’s painting and, more generally, the culture of Urbino and central Italy, from Luca Signorelli to Perugino; the fantastic animals engraved on the gold background refer to Pinturicchio. This work is probably one of the young Raphael’s first paintings, and was recently related to a drawing (in Berlin) dated 1500-1502, where the figure of Saint Peter is very similar the one on the cross.