The magnificent Madrid Royal Palace enhance its collections with the temporary display of the tapestries by the great Raffaello Sanzio, commemorating the 5th anniversary of his death.
The Raphael tapestries cartoons for the Sistine were commissioned by Pope Leo X in 1514, unfortunately the master did not live long enough to see them displayed in the chapel, as he died prematurely in 1520. The pontiff chose an iconographic program that underlines the legitimacy of the pope as the successor of Saint Peter, knowing that they would be exhibited in the Sistine for important ceremonies. These tapestries are an important political propaganda vehicle that leaves us a clear message about Vatican power.
These hangings were all the rage in the European courts thanks to their wide circulation dthrough the diffusion of prints by Marcantonio Raimondi and Agostino Veneciano, who already made an engraving of one of the cartoons in such an early date as 1516.
The tapestries that we can enjoy today hanging in the Main Gallery of the Royal Palace of Madrid are a copy commission by Philip II based on the original cartoons of Rafael. Its importance lies in the fact that the rest of the copies from the same period have been lost: the one owned by Francis I of France, during the French Revolution, and the one commission by Henry VIII, in the last bombings of World War II.
We can also say the excellent state of preservation of this set of tapestries make them even better than the Vatican set, in poorer conditions.
From the point of view of the composition, is a truly revolution if we compare with the previous tapestries woven during the late 15th century. The set of landscapes and grandiose architectures have been elaborated according to the Renaissance principles of perspective and human figures, life sized, making clear the perfect knowledge of anatomy through the study of classical sculpture.