Visione della Croce

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 Giulio Romano, Visione della Croce, 1520-1524
By ELIZABETH ELLIS

Giulio Romano was scrambling for control after Raphael's death in 1520. A well-oil machine before his death, Raphael's workshop was in shambles. Artists were fighting to take control of the workshop, unable to work together. Commissions were slipping away at the same time as people doubted whether the workshop could keep producing high quality works without the master to lead them. Romano and the workshop had to prove themselves if they wanted to stay in business.

A commission came in from the court of Leo X for the Sala di Constantino. But they had some competition this time around. Michelangelo, Raphael's rival, was supporting another artist, Sebastiano del Piombo, to get the commission. Fortunately, Romano and the workshop were able to procure some of Raphael's drafts and get the commission. The artists of the workshop used some the original drawings, but most of the art was created from under Romano's influence, rather than Raphael.

The painting is scrambled, figures melting into each other, and a general chaos reigning over the scene. Romano's figures are in the classical type, bulging muscles and open body forms. His propensity for including the mythological is also in the painting, seen in the foreground where a little troll smashes a vase. Romano's theme of Roman history combined with a more present theme of Christianity extends to many of his other works as well.

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