Sn one of the most famous frescoes of the Renaissance, “The School of Athens”, in the Vatican Museum, all three are there. The painter, Raphael (1483-1520)painted in profile in the right corner near the architect Bramante. In majesty, with his finger raised in the center, old Plato…
Sn one of the most famous frescoes of the Renaissance, “The School of Athens”, in the Vatican Museum, all three of them are there. The painter, Raphael (1483-1520) painted in profile in the right corner near the architect Bramante. In majesty, with his finger raised in the center, old Plato has the features of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). As for the character in the foreground, dark face, leaning on a stone, he is none other than Michelangelo (1475-1564), whose exegetes believe that Raphael added him at the last minute to his composition.
The trio alone sums up the artistic revival of the Quattrocento and the resurrection of Rome under the rule of two great building popes, Julius II della Rovere and Leo X Medici. And the documentary by Constance Colonna-Césari, specialist in the papacy and art history, focuses on the year 1513 when Leonardo da Vinci, the most famous master of the time, expelled from Milan, arrived in Rome where the young Raphael Sanzio and the “divine” Michelangelo already occupy the place.
A young man in a hurry
Five years earlier, Julius II asked Michelangelo to decorate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. And what does it matter if the creator of La Pietà (1499) prefers the sculptor’s chisel to the painter’s brush. “A waste of time,” complains the artist who was also ordered by the pope to sculpt a monumental tomb for him. But in the climate of artistic rivalry reigning in Rome, such an order was not refused. Especially when a young and brilliant rival arises, called by the Pope to adorn the rooms of the Vatican.
Raphael, scion of a rich family from Urbino, is as sociable as Michelangelo is introverted. Arriving in 1508 on the banks of the Tiber, this young man in a hurry made Villa Farnesina, the sumptuous home of his protector Agostino Chigi (the pope’s banker), his “showroom”. He is inspired by the innovative and life-filled art of Michelangelo, whom he spied on at the Sistine to his great fury. But Raphael’s precocity, his talent, his ability to lead teams of artists, seduced the pope.
Leonardo, wise old man
Will the death of Julius II in February 1513 and the election of the Florentine Leo X reshuffle the cards? Especially since the new pontiff invited Leonardo da Vinci to work for the rediscovered splendor of Rome. Should we fear a clash between the father of the Mona Lisa and Michelangelo who was his rival in Florence? But there is respect between these sacred monsters.
Meanwhile, Raphael continued his meteoric rise with the direction of the construction site of Saint Peter’s Basilica and his appointment as “Prefect of Antiquities of Rome”, a prestigious position that Michelangelo also coveted. Commented on by art historians, this episode, one of the richest in the history of the Eternal City, returns to us in the freshness of a rebirth. A documentary not to be missed.
“The Masters of Rome, Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci”, documentary by Constance Colonna-Césari, co-production ARTE-France/Effervescence Doc. Sunday February 11 at 5:40 p.m. on ARTE, and available on arte.tv from February 4 to May 10.