Raphael Up Close

Although Raphael for much of the last five hundred years has been celebrated as a prince of painters, today he is widely dismissed as no more than a kind of chief courtier: supreme in grace and rhetoric, yet mannered and unnatural, even insincere. But Raphael seems so abstract and remote because we have so little direct contact with him. “Raphael: The Drawings,” on view at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, provides a rare chance to see up close a wide array of the artist’s works from throughout his life, and the effect is thrilling and revelatory.

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