Transfiguration by Raphael Pinacoteca Vaticana Vatican City

The Transfiguration by Raphael

THE TRANSFIGURATION (By Raphael) — The last, and many think the finest work of Raphael is the great painting of the Transfiguration, which is now one of the priceless treasures of the Vatican. This wonderful picture represents two separate incidents. Below we see the crowd of people who have brought to nine of Christ’s disciples the boy possessed of an evil spirit. The sight of this demoniac is painful. He is writhing in agony, supported by his anxious father who implores their aid. Two kneeling women also join their entreaties that the sufferer may be cured. The inability of the disciples to restore him is shown in their looks and gestures. Two of them point upward as if indicating the only source of help. Meanwhile the upper part of the picture represents Mt. Tabor. The three disciples who have accompanied their Master thither are lying prostrate, dazzled by the celestial radiance and shading their eyes from the miraculous brilliancy which confronts them. Above them in mid-air are the figures of Jesus, accompanied by Moses and Elias. The wonderfully serene and majestic expression on the face of Christ is perhaps the greatest charm of the entire painting. It is justly supposed that this picture was designed by Raphael not merely to portray the historical occurrence mentioned in the Gospels, but to symbolize the contrast between the joy and glory of Heaven and the sorrow and sufferings of earth. The great painter, who died at the youthful age of thirty-seven, was at work on this only a few days before his death, but had not quite completed it. It was therefore hung above the bed on which his body lay in state, and was borne through the streets of Rome in his funeral procession attended by an immense throng of weeping admirers and friends. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

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