Raphael’s creative process
Raphael: The Drawings is an unusually presented exhibition, with little in the way of biography. Why is that?
Dr. Ben Thomas: ‘We wanted the focus to be insistently on the drawings, to see them less as documents of commission, but rather as a direct way of getting inside Raphael’s creative process. We set out to unlearn certain art-historical assumptions. Instead of looking at the drawings as if they were explained by the end product — the painting — we saw them as moments in time in which the artist is trying to discover the potential for a creative act.’
You get a sense that he was constantly developing a language in his drawing, whether using a blunt pen outline, gently moulding, tracing, or sketching…
BT: ‘The working title for the research project was “Raphael and the Eloquence of Drawing”. His drawing is eloquent in two senses: in a rhetorical sense definitely, but also as an index of a physical action on the part of the artist — the speed, the pressure of his hand, sometimes tentative, sometimes incredibly assured.’