Arte, Settis presents his new book: Raphael among the brushwood

Wednesday, June 22, 2022 – 5:08 p.m.

Arte, Settis presents his new book: Raphael among the brushwood

Written by Ammannati Paleographer, dedicated to The Letter to Leo X

Rome, June 22 (askanews) – “Even an unsent letter can leave its mark”. In fact, perhaps thanks to this and the mystery that has long surrounded it, the character has been indelible. Especially if, as one of the authors of the book says, to think of its contents “it was a sovereign artist like Raphael and to find and refine his words of a scholar of great rank like Baldassarre Castiglione”.

The letter was traditionally called Letter to Leo X, but the pope, the first of the Medici family, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, grew up breathing art, a highly cultured man, and for whom Raphael worked in Rome, never received it. even though he was the recipient. The fervent appeal that the author or authors address him with “implicit intellectual authority”, to protect ancient Rome so that it can inspire the present and the future, invited the Pope, among other things, to excel in conduct that was ruthless from its predecessors. who had instead let the buildings of ancient Rome be treated as quarries, he never read it.


The famous letter, one of the most quoted texts of the sixteenth century, which has risen to the rank of “iconic statute”, is the theme of the new book “Raphael among the twigs. The ruins of Rome and the origin of protection” written by the archaeologist and art historian Salvatore Settis and by Giulia Ammannati, professor of Latin paleography at Normale di Pisa, to whom we owe the research in the two versions of the letter, the autograph one by Baldassare Castiglione and the one by the Munich manuscript in which Raphaels presence is very intense and a synoptic view of which is offered in the book.

The book, published by Skira, was presented yesterday by the two authors at the Scuderie del Quirinale, the scene of the exhibition dedicated to the great master of Urbino in 2020, and which Settis himself had prepared a brochure for the visitors. The book is placed, Settis explained, as a continuation of that work, and above all it springs from a “dissatisfaction”: giving back to Raphael everything that belongs to him in the awareness that the artist needed to cherish the old. legacy, while the pope asked to fill up with marble from Roman buildings to build the new St. Peter’s as soon as possible.


The letter with its ability to soothe Leo X, Settis explained goes letter as a form of protest by Raphael, who just with his “crawling among the bushes” of the ruins of ancient Rome became increasingly aware of their decadence and their greatness. So “as one does with the powerful”, Settis pointed out without neglecting the reference to the present, Raphael believes he is opposing Leo X by trying to flatter him. The artist’s untimely death apparently caused his friends Baldassarre’s and Raphael’s project to be unfinished, probably destined for printing. And as explained by Ammannati, Maonaco’s manuscript gives an account of an intermediate phase of the work, which Raphael, if he had not disappeared, would have shown the author of Cortegiano.

The book sheds light on the cultural scenario in Leo X’s Rome, Raphael’s view of ancient Rome, his relationship with Castiglione, the bold project that took shape in the last months of the artist’s life, and finally the intellectual legacy that this unpublished letter left to the subsequent generations. , and down to us.


“Because Raphael himself – writes Settis – was the first to understand that the legacy of the past, to also be the seed and yeast of the future, requires that it be not only duly preserved, but operational inventory, measured, studied, understood in its “From his lesson we still have much to learn.”

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