Raphael Invenit: Originality, Creativity, and the Renaissance Print


The Hunterian is home to an impressive collection of works on paper, among them many by renowned Renaissance master Raphael. These pieces of graphic art and full-scale original masterpieces by the artist relate to each other in various ways. The resulting relationships provide ample opportunity to explain an array of art historical themes.

The collected prints fall into several different groups, among them:

• direct graphic reproductions of Raphael’s designs
• collaborations with the engraver
• prints which in a piecemeal manner reproduced some of the master’s most famous frescoes
• those twice or threefold removed via interpretation from Raphael’s original design
• prints which represent the master’s designs now lost in their original format
• those which served as models for altarpieces by other artists

These and many other works in The Hunterian’s collection offer a glimpse into the breadth and immortality of Raphael’s artistic reach, regarding time, place, and medium. They provide opportunity to explain one of the central precepts of how we see art today – the meeting, and eventual separation, of material work and concept. Through a series of talks titled Reproduction, Taste, Workshops, Originality, and Modernity, I will explain these themes and how they relate to not only the selected prints, but to works of art in general. As 2020 marks the 500th anniversary of the master’s death, the project coincides with various programmes at renowned galleries across the world.

Raphael Invenit aims to position The Hunterian’s collection of prints after Raphael in a multi-dimensional context that examines not only what we see, but why we see it. It will explore the series of human and innately cultural factors that led to the works’ creation. Raphael is perhaps the most fertile platform for exploring such a perspective, due to the sheer scope of his oeuvre, and the historically and culturally colourful context in which he worked – one that saw an amalgamation of tradition and originality that paved the way for further artistic freedom.

Note: In light of the new epidemiological situation in the UK and resulting social distancing measures, I will be exploring the possibility of online delivery and will be working with The Hunterian to plan in-person talks when possible.

Sarah Sharpe, PhD researcher in History of Art (University of Glasgow and St Andrews University)
Sarah's research focuses on the relationship between Raphael and 16th-century Venetian painting, as well as psychologically engaging pictures in Venetian religious art. 



Cover image: GLAHA:11291, "The Transfiguration", Dorigny, Michel, 1705

Top right: GLAHA:10079, "God Appearing to Noah", Marco da Ravenna; 1513 - 1520

Bottom right:GLAHA:6478, "The Abduction of Helen", Marco da Ravenna;1500 - 1534