Stepping out of Raphael’s Shadow

Exhibition Review

  • "Marcantonio Raimondi and Raphael"

  • The Whitworth Gallery, Manchester, UK
  • 30 Sep 2016 - 23 Apr 2017
  • Marcantonio Raimondi, Raphael and the Image Multiplied

  • Edited by Edward H. Wouk with David Morris
  • 240 pages, 200 color illustrations
  • Published by Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2016
  • £25

Marcantonio Raimondi, Il Sogno (The Dream of Raphael, ca. 1509), engraving, 23.5 x 33.5 cm,
The Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, P.5380-R ©Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge.

“Raphael’s engraver.” The title has simultaneously assured Marcantonio Raimondi’s (ca. 1480–ca. 1534) status as the preeminent Italian Renaissance printmaker and overshadowed the recognition of his independent artistic proficiency. This dichotomy is exemplified in his engraving entitled The Dream of Raphael (ca. 1509). A technical tour-de-force and iconographic enigma, the print was engraved prior to the commencement of his partnership with Raphael, prompting Beverly Louise Brown to ask: “If the dream is not Raphael’s then whose is it?”1 This question could be extended to confront the central paradox that lies at the heart of the Whitworth Gallery’s recent exhibition on the artist and, more broadly, of Marcantonio’s remarkable oeuvre. Of the more than 250 engravings encompassing diverse mythological, antique, allegorical and religious scenes, only approximately 50 of these have been associated with Raphael,2 a fact that makes a strong case for a reconsideration and restitution of Marcantonio’s autonomy.

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  1. Beverly Louise Brown, “Troubled Waters: Marcantonio Raimondi and Dürer’s Nightmare on the Shore,” in Edward H. Wouk and David Morris, eds., Marcantonio Raimondi, Raphael and the Image Multiplied (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016), 33. []
  2. Konrad Oberhuber, “Raffaello e l’incisione,” in Raffaello in Vaticano (Milan: Electa, 1984), 334. []