Raphael’s Tapestries

Tapestries-in-the-Sistine-Chapel

The Tapestries by Raphael

Art can never be old. It is a piece of work that transcends the subjectivity of time in the discovery of the universality of Taste and Reason in the eyes of all human creatures as regards the principles of judgment and sentiment common to all mankind. The beauty of art spreads through the mind of the beholder and stays there in such alterations that it almost feels physical. It is this kind of sensation when we look at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel that penetrates deeply into the fortress of Reason surrendering to the force of the Senses. And what if such sensual feast of beauty is doubled by more pleasure that will make it sound sybaritic, and sinful, even? But it is happening now and is happening in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.

To celebrate the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death, the Vatican has all 12 tapestries designed by the artist hung on the lower walls of the Sistine Chapel. The tapestries were weaved and kept in an art studio in Brussels, and this time they are back in the Sistine Chapel, where they were when Michelangelo, Raphael’s contemporary rival, worked on the frescoes, which eclipsed the silky and shiny tapestries that allude to the affable and delicate nature of the creator. The tapestries are said to have been restored by Vatican Museum conservationists in the last 10 years. It is also said that the last time all of 13 tapestries were on display was in the late 1500s.

The magnificent display of Raphael’s tapestries was originally Pope Francis’s idea that the beauty of art should be shared and appreciated by all coming from all over the world, the low and the high, the ignored and the admired. Likewise, art should not be a prerogative of a few select or the haves who pride themselves on possessing and knowing a thing about art. Art is not a thing, but a way in life that nourishes our minds, imbuing us with a breath of artistic inspirations to create an art of our own. The Pope knows that through the power of art, the Mysteries of Faith will be understood in manifold ways, which chimes with Shakespeare’s view on art as thus: “The object of art is to give life a shape.” Right on. Rock on.

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