June 23, 2024

Raphael’s Dresden Tapestries come to Columbus

For the first time ever, the Columbus Museum of Art (CMOA) is hosting an exhibit based almost entirely around the artwork of the internationally-renowned Italian artist, Raphael, and the work of his students. The exhibition has been running since July 15, and it is scheduled to end on Oct. 30. 

Raphael (1483–1520), who was originally known as Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, was one of two Italian artists who famously worked on the Sistine Chapel (the other artist being Michelangelo). However, Raphael was known for more than just his paintings and architectural work during the High Italian Renaissance (early 1490s to 1527).

The exhibit at the CMOA is entitled “Raphael—The Power of Renaissance Images: The Dresden Tapestries and their Impact,” and this exhibit focuses almost exclusively on Raphael’s masterful work in the art form of weaving. 

Completely inspired by Christian biblical scenes from the gospels and the book of Acts, Raphael’s tapestries literally seem “larger than life,” and this is partly due to their impressive 20-foot height. 

The CMOA website describes the rich history of the Dresden tapestries in this way: 

“The Dresden tapestries … had not been on display since 2008[, and this exhibit is] the tapestries’ first ever trip to the United States. The exhibition focuses on the creation of the Dresden tapestries and introduces their various patrons and owners through the centuries—in particular, Charles I, King of England, and Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland—while also highlighting Raphael’s broad impact and influence on later artists.”

The CMOA website also states that the exhibit is “on loan from the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery of Dresden), Germany, one of Europe’s most renowned museums.” The Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister website has a very informative video on the exhibit and how it was originally curated by them.

According to a Columbus Dispatch article, the exhibit also includes the “sketches” and a few other practice mediums that Raphael used before creating his final product of the tapestry entitled “The Miraculous Draft of Fishes,” multiple other finished tapestries, and over 50 other pieces of art “inspired by the tapestries or reflecting the widespread influence of the young artist.” 

The exhibit at the CMOA has also been hosting some special programming events around the various themes and historical impacts of Raphael’s Dresden tapestries. There are three programs remaining for the month of October, and all of these programs are available to attend either in-person or virtually. 

On Oct. 13 from 7-8 pm, Pastor Julia Pickerill, the senior pastor at Vineyard Christian Church in Columbus, will give a lecture entitled “Testament in Tapestry.” Pastor Pickerill’s lecture will “reflect on the themes found in [the Raphael exhibit] as well as the Brussels Tapestries located at First Church … Come together to gain a deeper understanding of the spiritual context in which the tapestries were created, and how that spirit is still vibrant and relevant.”

On Oct. 20 from 7-8 pm, Stephanie Storey (author of Raphael, Painter in Rome) will be hosting a lecture entitled “Special Edition Art Book Club.” This lecture will primarily focus on discussing Storey’s book and “the stories behind Raphael’s famed cartoons (large paintings) from which the famous tapestries were woven, and … the life and personality of the legendary artist.”

On Oct. 23 from 2-3 pm, Ann Dumas, the CMOA adjunct curator of European art, and Andrew Shelton (professor of history of art at Ohio State University) will be hosting a lecture, entitled “The Cult of Raphael: A Legacy Across Time.” They will focus primarily on “the enduring impact of Raphael during the centuries following his death in 1520[,] … where his tapestry cartoons were preserved, displayed, and copied,” and more. 

The cost of each of these special programs varies anywhere from no cost to $10, so make sure to reference the CMOA website for more information. 

You can also use the CMOA website to reserve your tickets for the Raphael exhibit, with there being special discounts for students (ages 4-18+), children (aged up to three years old), and senior citizens. It is important to note that the cost for the Raphael exhibit is additional to the general admission for the art museum, although there is no general admission cost on Sundays.


  • Trinity Langbein

    Trinity is a senior English Literature, Creative Writing and Spanish triple-major. She enjoys all things humanities and loves to learn about different cultures.

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