- Museum number
Head of an apostle; turned to right, eyes closed
Black chalk, on light brown prepared paper
- Production date
Height: 264 millimetres
Width: 198 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- An auxiliary cartoon for the head of the Apostle peering over the heads of St. Peter and St. Andrew in the centre of Raphael's altarpiece of the 'Transfiguration' (Rome, Pinacoteca Vaticana, see L. Dussler, 'Raphael: a Critical Catalogue', London, 1971, pl. 111). The painting, commissioned by Cardinal Giulio de' Medici for his cathedral church in Narbonne, France, was probably left partly unfinished at Raphael's untimely death in April 1520, but completed shortly afterwards by his assistant and heir Giulio Romano. The painting never made it to France. In 1523 it was placed on the high altar of San Pietro in Montorio, Rome. The picture is extraordinary for its combination of two Biblical events: the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor and the healing of a possessed boy. It is thought that the representation of these two unrelated events must have been requested by the patron.
Numerous studies for the altarpiece survive, including a red chalk drawing in Vienna (Grapische Sammlung Albertina, inv. 4880, see A. Gnann in exh. cat. Mantua, Palazzo Te and Vienna, Albertina, 'Roma e lo stile classico di Raffaello', 1999, no. 172, p. 246), normally attributed to Giulio Romano, which contains a study for this figure, the Apostle next to him who points to the crazed boy and the seated St. Peter below. The facial figures of this head are somewhat more wizened than the other Apostles and appears to be Raphael's adaptation of the head of the man peering over the shoulder of the Virgin in Leonardo da Vinci's unfinished 'Adoration of the Magi' (Florence, Uffizi, see S.J. Freedberg, 'Painting of the High Renaissance in Rome and Florence', Cambridge, Mass., 1961, p. 5, pl. 3). It is interesting that even at this late date in his career, Raphael was still looking back to the lessons he had learned in Florence.
This drawing is one of a group of auxiliary cartoons for the heads of the Apostles (see, for example, British Museum 1860-6-16-96 (P&G 37) or Oxford, Ashmolean, Parker 568). Fischel coined the phrase 'auxiliary cartoons' to define these sheets drawn in black chalk or charcoal over the traces of dots pounced on to the page from a cartoon (O. Fischel, 'Raphael's Auxiliary Cartoons', 'The Burlington Magazine', LXXI (1937), pp. 137-8). It is likely that they were transferred from the original cartoon for further working up and, perhaps, preservation (for recent information on some of the auxiliary cartoons for the 'Transfiguration', see C.C. Bambach, 'Drawing and Painting in the Italian Renaissance Workshop: Theory and Practice, 1300-1600, Cambridge, 1999, pp. 326-28). This drawing is in less good condition than British Museum 1860-6-16-96, the surface has been rubbed, some of the vibrancy of the chalk has been lost, but traces of the pounce marks are still slightly visible throughout.
Lit.: J.C. Robinson, 'Descriptive Catalogue of Drawings by the Old Masters, forming the Collection of John Malcolm of Poltalloch, Esq.', London, 1876, no. 195; P. Pouncey and J.A. Gere, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Raphael and his circle', London, 1962, no. 38 (with previous literature); L. Dussler, 'Raphael: a Critical Catalogue', London, 1971, pp. 52-55; J.A. Gere and N. Turner in exh. cat. BM, 'Drawings by Raphael', 1983, no. 179; P. Joannides, 'The Drawings of Raphael', Oxford, 1983, no. 436; E. Knab, E. Mitsch and K. Oberhuber, 'Raphael Die Zeichnungen', Stuttgart, 1983, no. 616
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1879 May-Jun, Paris, École des Beaux-Arts, 'Des Dessins de Maîtres Anciens', no. 117
1962/3 Nov-Sep, BM, Raphael and his Circle (P+G)
1983, BM, 'Drawings by Raphael', no.179
2012 June-Sep, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, Late Raphael,
2017-2018 26 Sep - 7 Jan, Vienna, Albertina, 'Raphael'
2022 2 Feb - 15 May London, BM, G90a, 'Raphael and his Circle'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- King of Netherlands - according to an inscription under the Lawrence Gallery lithograph. Monsieur Pescatore - according to the King of the Netherlands Sale Cat. and to Passavant's description, it should be The Hague, 12.viii.1850/51.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number