The exhibition, Raphael: The Drawings, opened at the Ashmolean on 1 June and runs to 3 September. It features 120 drawings from international collections, including 25 from the Albertina Museum in Vienna and several from the Royal Collection. Fifty works are from the Ashmolean's own collection, the largest and most important group of Raphael drawings in the world, originally collected by the painter Sir Thomas Lawrence.
The drawings are taken from across Raphael's career and show how the artist engaged in an intensive search for possibilities of expression that would enable him to fulfil his far-reaching ambitions. He investigated and refined his ideas through the process and materials of drawing, in ways that were more subtle or adventurous than they would appear in his paintings, and which allowed him to reflect deeply on the subject and its significance.
A seated mother embracing her child, c.1512, metalpoint with white heightening on grey prepared paper, selectively indented for transfer, 16.1 x 12.6 cm © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
Dr Catherine Whistler is Keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean, and Fellow in Art History at St John's. We talked to her about the exhibition and her research. In the first video she explains the scope and purpose of the exhibition. In the second she looks in detail at three drawings, from different stages in the artist's career.