Essay Raphael's Portrait Leo X with Cardinals Guilio de' Medici

Good Essays

In Nelson Minnich's religious interpretation of Raphael's famous portrait of Pope Leo X, Minnich first begins with the very basics of the portrait; what is contained within its canvas and why it is there. From small clues such as these, he is able to lay the foundation for which theories and conclusions can be based. He first points out the location of the figures in the painting. Minnich believes that they are in a large room, seated before a green cloth on the wall, or cloth of honor. There is some speculation, however, as to exactly where this room is located. Several theorists, as well as he, believe that the location is a room in the Vatican, perhaps the library. He points out that there is reflection of a window in several objects …show more content…

Leo would have needed the glass to read the next item on the table, his bible. The bible is obviously not an unlikely item, being that it is a portrait of a pope, but it is where the bible is opened to that is of importance; St. John's Gospel. Minnich tells us that Leo's first baptismal name was Giovanni, a name that came from this gospel. After inspecting the painting for obvious clues and symbols, Minnich is ready to discuss the possible reasons for the paintings existence. The first being the obvious, that it is merely a papal state portrait. He points out several reasons that this could be a wrong assumption. The painting was kept in Florence and not in Rome, like most papal portraits. It was much smaller than an average state portrait. And the most obvious objection was that there were three people present in the painting, which is highly unusual for a portrait. Minnich then suggests the possibility that Raphael was merely painting a family portrait. But then he quickly points out that no other of Leo's relatives was involved. He also points out that the items involved, a bell, the bible, are not usually in state portraits. With the state portrait theory clearly discredited, Minnich tells readers of the theory that the painting is simply an occasional piece, saying that it was painted just to be displayed at the wedding of the Medici and Valois houses in lieu of the pope and his two relatives not being able to make the festivities. Minnich states that

Get Access
Get Access