The Renaissance master Raphael (1483–1520) painted the Colonna altarpiece circa 1504–05 for a convent in Perugia. It was subsequently owned by Queen Christina of Sweden, the duc d’Orlèans of France, and the Colonna family in Rome. In 1901, J. Pierpont Morgan acquired the altarpiece, which was still in a private collection, paying the phenomenal sum of two million francs. Morgan’s son bequeathed the painting to the Metropolitan Museum in 1916, and it remains one of the great treasures of the collection.
This catalogue explores the altarpiece’s commission in the context of Raphael’s career. Its fascinating history, new technical findings, and a reconstruction of the original altarpiece with its long-separated predella panels are featured. Raphael’s preparatory drawings and selected works by such mentors as Perugino, Pinturicchio, and Fra Bartolommeo are illustrated and supplement this intriguing history, which unfolded over the course of four centuries.
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Linda Wolk-Simon is Associate Curator in the Department of Drawings and Prints at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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