Art: Raphael Transfigured

When Raphael suddenly died in 1520 at the age of 37, his last work, the Transfiguration, was acclaimed as a masterpiece by the file of Cardinals and connoisseurs who trooped past his bier and saw the painting near by. The strong, graceful figures, the supple, continuous modeling, the ecstatic vision of a gravity-free Christ rising into the air above Mount Tabor—these struck Raphael's admirers not only as the quintessence of his style but as a climax of the entire Renaissance system of ideal figure painting.

At Napoleon's orders, the Transfiguration was taken off to the Louvre, and in 1802 it was heavily...

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