The Resurrection of Christ, 1499-1502

  • Author:
  • Bio:
    Urbino, Itália, 1483-Roma, Itália ,1520
  • Title:
    The Resurrection of Christ
  • Date:
  • Medium:
    Óleo sobre madeira
  • Dimensions:
    56,5 x 47 x 1,2 cm
  • Credit line:
    Doação Walther Moreira Salles e Elisa Moreira Salles, Leão Gondim de Oliveira, Hélio Muniz de Souza, Gastão Bueno Vidigal Filho, Francisco Matarazzo Sobrinho, João di Pietro, Brasílio Machado Neto e Diários e Emissoras Associados, 1958
  • Object type:
  • Inventory number:
  • Photography credits:
    Eduardo Ortega


Ever since he began his training in the workshop of Pietro Perugino (1446–1524), Raphael Sanzio circulated in the court of Urbino, and at age of 16 he was already receiving commissions for paintings. In 1504, the artist moved to Florence and later to Rome, where he decorated the papal apartments (1508–1520) and had contact with artists like Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) and Michelangelo (1475–1564), both major influences on his artistic development. MASP’s painting, The Resurrection of Christ, was the subject of much discussion among art historians before it was finally attributed to the young Raphael. The painting features characteristics which Raphael acquired at Perugino’s workshop, such as the rigorous division of the vertical and horizontal axes. Moreover, the symmetrical articulation between the central and peripheral elements was a hallmark of Raphael, who strove for an ideal of harmonious beauty in his paintings derived from the values of classical antiquity. Christ’s feet mark the center of the painting, above the rectangle formed by the four guards, who are gesturing in different directions. The half-open cover of the sarcophagus in the center of the canvas suggests volume and depth, as do the hills and mountains in the background. The angels beside Christ echo his upward-pointing gesture, alluding to the belief in a divine existence.

— MASP Curatorial Team, 2015

Source: Adriano Pedrosa (org.), Pocket MASP, São Paulo: MASP, 2020.

By Juliana Barone and Luiz Marques
The Resurrection, also known as the Kinnaird Resurrection, is probably an element from an unknown predella(Camesasca 1987, p. 74). Acquired by the São Paulo Museum of Art (Masp) in 1954, during its exhibitions touring Europe and America and only officially becoming part of the museum’s stock in 1958, the work has been the subject matter of intense debate especially from 1954, notably regarding its attribution, but also in relation to its iconography. The essence of this controversy is the relationship between this work and two drawings (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, pp. 505-506) attributed to Raphael since 1840 by all scholars, with the exceptions of Morelli and Fischel. At first, both drawings were considered preparatory studies for a Resurrection commissioned to Perugino by the Church of Saint Francesco al Prato in Perugia (Vatican Museum), in which Raphael is considered to have extensively collaborated. In any case, these drawings were commonly dated around 1502-1503 (De Vecchi, Dussler, Oberhuber, Ferino-Pagden, Joannides, Gere & Turner, etc.), whereas Cuzin and Camesasca dated them from 1499-1500. In 1880, Wilhelm von Bode referred the panel to Cavalcaselle who just mentioned it in his work on Raphael without discussing the attribution. In 1921, Gnoli suggested the name Mariano di Ser Eusterio (1470-1547?), but withdrew it in 1923. One of the most positive arguments in this debate over attribution was pre- sented by Regteren van Altena, who in a private communication (1927) to Fischel, finally related the two Ashmolean drawings to the Kinnaird Resurrection. Several scholars, including Dussler, Beccherucci, and Fischel, argued that the drawings had served for two Resurrections, the Vatican and the Kinnaird works. Oth- er scholars (from Popham and Parker to Longhi, De Vecchi, and others) consider the Ashmolean drawings preliminary studies only for the Kinnaird Resurrection. At the time of the exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London, Bardi assumed the responsibility for placing the recently acquired piece (1954) in the corpus of Raphael, and was immediately followed by Longhi (1954) and Ragghianti (1954). The attribution was also accepted by Suida and confirmed by Longhi (1955), who, among other assumptions linked the Masp’s painting to the St. Nicholas of Tolentino retable (Raphael’s first official commission in 1500), due to the similarity of the so-called Magdalene of the Resurrection to the Virgin of the St. Nicholas retable. After Longhi, the work has been with more or less conviction attributed to Raphael by Parker, Dussler, Beccherucci, Forlani Tempesti, Volpe, Bologna, Gregori, Teza, M. G. Ciardi Dupré, A. M. Brizio, P. L. De Vecchi, Camesasca, Carvalho Magalhães, and Ferino-Pagden (1997, verbal communi- cation). This attribution to Raphael has been cautiously accepted by Marabottini and by Cuzin. According to the latter: “le tab- leautin semble, plus qu’une leçon apprise de Pinturicchio, une leçon qui lui serait donnée. En effet la force et la délicatesse de la mise en place des quatre soldats laissent loin en arrière les figures mannequinées de Pinturicchio et ne trouvent pas de répondant chez les peintres contemporains, sauf, peut-être, chez Signorelli. La Résurrection de São Paulo apparaît comme une sorte de synthèse, le résumé-bijou de tout ce que la peinture de la fin du XVe siècle pouvait offrir de plus séduisant pour un adolescent; avec une science du dessin et une intelligence de l’espace sans pré- cédent à l’intérieur du milieu ombrien”. For Knab (1983, p. 58): “Questa piccola tavola non sembra essere di un’unica mano; oltre alle guardie già descritte, anche la figura del Risorto fa pensare a Raffaello”. But the attribution was definitely denied by Wagner, Gere & Turner, Oberhuber and Joannides, who attribute the ex- ecution of the painting to an anonymous artist working from a Raphael drawing. The cogitation of Raphael’s participating in Perugino’s works raises the possibility not only of the similarity of the work of Raphael with the Vatican Resurrection but also with other works of Perugian origin: the predella(Resurrection) of the Ascension of Christ polyptych(Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen) and the London Resurrection(private collection), mentioned by W. Von Suida (1955). Although the Resurrection in question undoubtedly pertains to this group of works, it shows particular characteristics, both with regard to the individualized construction of the figures and the orchestration of its elements, which caused Fontana (1987) and Cuzin (1983) to place it beyond the Perugian provincial culture. The balance attained in this work is a result of the ideal geometry underlying its composition. The inner harmony between the figures, despite their minute size, expands the composition, which together with the grace of the drawing, translates into an original rhythmic modulation with a new spatial meaning. This unique balance of spatial orchestration is also individually evident in the figures. The guardian standing to the right, reworked from the Ashmolean drawings, moves his arm in a gracious ascendant circle. This spatial definition is achieved by moving the figure’s leg backward, a movement that reso- nates with the lifting of his opposite arm together with a rotat- ing movement of his head. This is an essentially choreographic quality that is quite evident in the “executioner” of the Raleigh predella (North Carolina Museum of Art), subsequently developed in The Archangel St. Michael(Louvre, Paris) and reaching its highest point in the figure of Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple. An inherent concern with attaining the exact mea- sure of balance between the surrounding space and the figure translates into a light and graceful stellar structure, which is a typical quality of Raphael, remote from Umbrian universe as is the pronounced perspective of the tomb and the overall spatial orchestration of the work. In the light of recent studies, it is clear that the Masp’s piece reflects awareness of the Florentine ambiance. Camesasca (1987) emphasizes the affinity between the Christ of the Masp’s Resurrec- tion and that by Luca Della Robbia in the cathedral of Florence, which in turn was inspired by the Careggi Resurrection(Bargello, Florence), attributed to Verrocchio’s studio. The angels are also considered to have a certain resemblance to the terra-cotta models from Verrocchio’s circle (Louvre, Paris) –one of which is con- sidered to have received the collaboration of Leonardo– and with the angels in full flight on the retable of the Sala degli Otto, attributed to Filippino Lippi (Ufizzi, Florence). Dal Pogetto (1987) feels it is possible to conclude that around 1500 the universe of Raphael was “rich in experiences that were much broader and more complex than the strictly Peruginian influences to which some have restrictively traced Raphael’s training”. For the same scholar, “it is necessary to assume that Raphael was aware of an alternative art such as the Florentine”. The Masp work seems to be the very first in which this link is perceptible. What is peculiar in this small panel is precisely the coexistence of Florentine tradition with the poetics of Perugino and Pinturicchio, the latter shown in the decorative treatment of the panel, favoring strong and shiny colors, as well as the presence of ornaments on the ar- mor of the soldiers, on the lid of the tomb, and in the luminous granulation of the trees. In connection with this influence, Suida deciphered one of the inscriptions on the back of the Resurrection, recognizing the name “Gioacchino Mignanelli”, the first owner of the work, who was probably a member of an important Sienese family. The inscription therefore links the panel to Siena, where precisely Pinturicchio was in charge of decoration for a fresco in the Libreria Piccolomini. The date of the work has also been the subject matter of much controversy. The importance of the relation with Pinturicchio caused Longhi (1955), followed by De Vecchi (1981), to anticipate the date of the Resurrection, initially suggested by Suida (1955) as 1502-1503, to 1501-1502. After Knab (1983), the Umbrian link is also mentioned by Camesasca (198y), who dates the work from 1499-1500. Once again it is Vasari (1568) who provides a pivotal reference to Raphael’s poetics by pointing out that Raphael was able to bring together several coexisting traditions “by absorbing what was most fitting for him by drawing and coloring in an in- termediate manner, according to his needs and whims. He blend- ed this technique of his own with methods derived from some of the greatest achievements of other masters and was therefore able to meld many styles into one, which has always been considered uniquely his own”.

— Juliana Barone and Luiz Marques, 1998

Source: Luiz Marques (org.), Catalogue of the Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, São Paulo: MASP, 1998. (new edition, 2008).

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