The Death of Raphael
  • Nicolas-André Monsiau
  • Paris 1754 - 1837
  • The Death of Raphael
  • Pen and brush and brown ink, over pencil
  • signed and dated with pen on the lower left: Monsiau 1804, on creme paper, on an old mount
  • 322 × 272 mm
Probably estate sale of the artist, Paris, August 30th, 1837, lot 38: La Mort de Raphael, dessin terminé à la seppia du tableau exécuté par M. Monsiau en 1804
Sale Hôtel Drouot, Paris, July 26th, 1987, lot 18
Private collection, France

Following an exhibition of Raphael’s paintings at the Musée Napoléon in Paris in 1802, a true cult broke out for this Renaissance artist, who was originally known as Raffaello Santi (1483-1520). Even contemporary painters have not been able to detract from this cult. Monsiau’s choice of motives here is to be seen in light of this background, as he depicts the moment of his great idol’s death, fortified by the sacraments of the church. Raphael’s most important students and friends simultaneously press into the room from the left in order to take their pained farewells; among others, we can identify Ariosto as well as Cardinal Bernardo Bibbiena, secretary to Pope Leo X. Over Raphael’s death bed, which is crowned by a baldachin, hangs the Transfiguration, one of his greatest masterpieces – a painting that the master had worked on from 1516 until his death1. The present drawing came into existence as a preparatory study for a painting with the same motif, which Monsiau presented at the Parisian Salon of 1804 with great success2. Today, this version in oil is unfortunately missing, and is only known through an etching by Charles Normand (1765-1840). A second version of our preparatory drawing from a private collection, which has only small deviations but lacks a signature or date, was shown in 1983 in the exhibition Raphael et l’art français in the Grand Palais in Paris3.

  1. Raphael: Transfiguration, oil on wood, 405 x 278 cm, The Vatican Museum, inv. no. 133
  2. P. Sanchez and X. Seydoux: Les catalogues des Salons, Paris 1999, vol. I, p. 87
  3. Grand Palais, Paris 1983, no. 180, see also Galerie Michel Descours: Le passé retrouvé, Paris 2014, exh. cat. Ill. 4, p. 26