Raphael, La Donna Velata, c. 1514-1516. Oil on canvas, Palazzo Pitti, Galleria Palatina, Florence, Italy
PORTLAND, OR.- This October, the Portland Art Museum will present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view Raphael's renowned painting The Woman with a Veil. This single-painting exhibition will bring one of the most important paintings of the Renaissance to Oregon for the first time. The Woman with a Veil (la velata or la donna velata) was painted in 1516 and depicts a serene woman looking intently at the viewer. It is believed that the model for the painting is the same woman depicted in other Raphael works including La Fornarina. Scholars have suggested that the woman was Raphael’s lover, Margherita Luti.
The Woman with the Veil’s perfect harmony and balance beautifully capture the fundamental principles of the High Renaissance. Raphael demonstrates his brilliance at sfumato, an Italian term for a painting technique often associated with Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, whereby lightly applied layers of color are used to capture light and articulate volume and form.
To ensure an optimal viewing experience, The Woman with a Veil will be displayed in a gallery with no more than 25 people allowed access at any given time. Text panels, audio and video presentations, and public programs will provide insight into Renaissance art, portraiture, and the artist.
Raphael (1483–1520), also known as Raffaello Sanzio, was born in Urbino, Italy. His father, Giovanni Santi, was a painter and poet. Raphael trained in his father’s workshop and later in the workshop of the artist Pietro Perugino. In 1504 he began spending time and perhaps even resided in Florence, where he was influenced by the work of Leonardo da Vinci. Eventually, he moved to Rome where, under the patronage of Pope Julius II, he entered his most productive phase as an artist. He managed a large workshop of pupils and assistants, many of whom became well-known artists in their own right. Raphael’s art reached wide-spread influence through collaboration with the engraver Marcantonio Raimondi, who produced prints of Raphael’s paintings.
Raphael’s personal life was complex. He never married but was reputed to have had many relationships. In 1514 he became engaged to Maria Bibbiena, the niece of an influential Cardinal and Raphael’s friend. The marriage never took place, and she died in 1520. Raphael lived a grand lifestyle in Rome and attained some status at court. It is believed that he died on his 37th birthday in 1520. He left a significant portion of his estate to Margherita Luti—La Donna Velata—and he was buried in the Pantheon.
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