Friday 10 September 2010

Raphael Cartoons & Tapestries for the Sistine Chapel * V&A * 8 September - 17 October 2011 ONLY

These Mannerist marvels of textile art, commissioned nearly 500 years by Pope Leo for the Vatican are on view today as Raphael himself never saw them - beside the cartoons (original designs) he painted for them. The tapestries were woven in Brussels and Raphael's designs or cartoons would have been divided into strips for each weaver to follow. The tapestries were woven on large vertical looms rotated through 90 degrees so that the strong weft would support the huge weight of the finished work. And because the weaver wove from the back of the work, the tapestries are mirror images of the original designs. At some point after the work was finished, the sections of design were repieced and saved (thankfully!) as works of art in their own right. Some times more than one set of tapestries were made for other clients. Charles I when Prince of Wales had the designs brought to England his own set woven at Mortlake. You are strongly advised to pre-book your tickets before going tot he V&A as tickets and exhibition duration are limited.

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