Raphael (Raffaello Santi, 1483–1520): Combat of nude Men
Red chalk over preliminary stylus work on off-white paper, 37.9 x 28.1 cm.
Raphael made extensive preparatory studies for the decoration of the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican, which was his first Papal commission, the success of which determined the course of his career. The knowledge that Michelangelo was at work nearby in the Sistine Chapel must have acted as a further stimulus to the display of his abilities. This magnificent study was drawn in preparation for a detail of the School of Athens, painted c. 1509: the combat appears in a feigned marble bas-relief beneath the statue of Apollo at the left of the fresco. Raphael’s increased command of the male nude is apparent in this powerful drawing, although his emphasis on graceful movement and formal patterning is still stronger than his interest in individual anatomy and muscularity. This, like the Ashmolean's other Raphael drawings, came to Oxford from Sir Thomas Lawrence's collection, in 1845/6. [Presented by a Body of Subscribers. WA1846.193, PII 552].
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