Raphael: Prince Albert’s Passion
12th November 2020
2020 marked the 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael and to commemorate this significant event, exhibitions were scheduled around the world to celebrate Raphael’s achievement as one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance. The Lightbox is the only gallery in the UK to be mounting an exhibition about Raphael in 2020.
Originally due to open in May 2020, the upcoming exhibition has been rescheduled (3 October 2020 – 31 January 2021) thanks to the kind discretion of the lenders. The exhibition relays the fascinating story of Prince Albert’s passion for Raphael and his creation of the Raphael Collection at Windsor Castle. It reveals how Raphael caught the imagination of the Prince Consort, who embarked on a pioneering research-based project into the work of the Renaissance master, making copies of his work using the newest technologies available.
The exhibition explores the making of copies after Raphael and reveals 500 years of reproductive
techniques, not only in photography, but also in a variety of mediums including engravings, original
wood-block printing, and lithography.
The Prince Consort’s Raphael Collection, started in 1853, includes over 5,000 prints and
photographs, recording almost every work by Raphael. The Prince began to assemble all available
reproductions of Raphael’s work, and he and his wife, Queen Victoria, spent many happy hours
together in the Print Room at Windsor Castle occupied by this task. The exhibition also shows how
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s own personal art collection reflected their shared, intense interest
in Raphael. Included in the show are several of the Raphael-inspired artworks the couple purchased
or commissioned and gifted to each other as either birthday or Christmas presents.
The Raphael drawings in the Royal Collection are at the heart of the exhibition and several of them
will be shown in a specially designed space. Most of the drawings included in the display were made
in preparation for major commissions, but they are important as individual works of art and reveal the
artist’s working methods. Prince Albert was also inspired by the Raphael cartoons in the Royal
Collection and like the drawings, had them photographed. The exhibition includes a rare 17th century
tapestry version of one of the cartoons, made at the Mortlake tapestry works under the patronage of
Charles II, whose father, Charles I, had originally brought the Raphael cartoons to England.
Raphael: Prince Albert’s Passion will be on show at The Lightbox in Woking, Surrey, from 3
October 2020 – 31 January 2021. The exhibition will be accompanied by a selection of engaging
talks, tours, and creative workshops. For further information please visit thelightbox.org.uk.