The Holy Family
11.7 cm x 10.2 cm (4 5/8 in. x 4 in.)
Raffaello Sanzio, called Raphael
(Urbino, 1483 - 1520, Rome)
Medium and Support:
Pen and brown ink with graphite (later addition) on cream antique laid paper
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
First attributed to Raphael by Konrad Oberhuber, this is a characteristic and fine drawing of the artist’s early maturity. The subject is one explored with repertory insistence in a famous series of paintings and a parallel series of very swift, occasionally preliminary studies in pen-and-ink during his Florentine and early Ro-man periods. Perfectly consistent with this virtual research and the development of High Renaissance style are the solid spatial construction and powerful centripetal movement of this composition. And absolutely cognate with the other pen studies are the large gestures about the perimeter of the motif, changes in the position of the Child’s arm and Joseph’s head, and shorthand notations for the extremities, the Virgin’s profile, and the Child’s features. The only defects are the trimming of the sheet to a round-headed format, an obtrusive collector’s mark, and the modern scribble in graphite at the Virgin’s shoulder. In conception and handling, this is a drawing of the highest intelligence, confidence, and spontaneity.