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The Ecstasy Of Saint Cecilia

Painting, 1517, 220×136 cm

Description of the artwork «The Ecstasy Of Saint Cecilia»

"The ecstasy of St. Cecilia" written for the Bolognese Church of San Giovanni in Monte, is one of the most ambitious creations of Raphael. On the Russian exhibition "Rafael. Poetry image" in 2016, the picture has occupied a Central place.

"...this is the greatest painting of the High Renaissance– says the art critic Alexander timofeevsky on his Facebook page, – from the very first row, where Tondo Doni Michelangeloand Anna and Mary with the Christ child Leonardo. We say "great style", calling them anything, the Stalinist architecture of papier-mache, any fake crap, but the words still have meaning, and the "Grand style", grande maniere, this is just about the one number, from "the Ecstasy of St. Cecilia"!"

Archiv collected the minimum of knowledge required to understand one of the greatest works of Raphael.

Who was Cecilia and why is it Holy?


Cecilia (sometimes found writing tutor or even Kilikia, dolmama) is revered not only by Catholics, but also Orthodox Martyr who lived in Rome at the beginning of the III century and is considered the inventor and patron of Church music.

Cecilia was born into a family of wealthy Roman patricians and was brought up from childhood in the Christian faith. This meant a special approach to the good things of life: the young Roman sought to divide their property with the poor, a gorgeous dress, wore a hair shirt – a long shirt of coarse wool (it is on the picture of Raphael), which pricked and rubbed on the body and did not allow him to be pampered, but other than that, Cecilia gave the Lord a vow of chastity. Parents chose her a husband of noble pagan Valerian. In such situations, the virgin Christian acted differently. St. Liberata for example, managed to beg, so she grew up Besobrasova her beard and to discourage the groom from the thought of marriage and Saint Lucia of Syracuse the bridegroom where, after learning of her vow of celibacy, he decided to take her to a public house, praying so fervently that one thousand guards could not move her cart. But the Saint Cecilia, in contrast, saw the future husband is not pagan and not the torturer, and the man is the image and likeness of God. Cecilia convinced the groom not to break her vow and spoke so earnestly and sincerely that Valerian not only agreed with her, but together with his brother Tiburtius converted to Christianity. All three were led to Christ by another 400 people, was persecuted by the authorities, under the lash did not renounce Christ and was martyred.

What is the music?


Cecilia lived during the III century, and is considered the patron Saint of music began much later – around the XV-XV centuries. In the thirteenth century saw the world famous collection of lives of saints, written by the monk-Dominican Jacob Vorgenskiy, later dubbed the "Golden legend". Containing many interesting details, he was an inexhaustible storehouse of subjects for painters. About Cecilia, for example, reported: "led by the sounds of musical instruments in the house of his fiancé, Cecilia cried out to God, begging for her body and soul spotless". In response to your prayers Cecilia ceased to hear the earth's cacophony and heard angelic singing. On her face Rafael captured the expression of delight and ecstatic abandon.

Believe in the image of angels in the upper part of the painting Rafael encrypted Pythagorean music theory: their number and location, says Alexander Makhov, "expresses the mathematical proportion of the most perfect musical consonances – octaves".

Cecilia, where this is not available to hear other people "the music of the spheres", therefore, becomes a Mediatrix between the celestial and earthly music. To this end, it, according to oral tradition, invented the body – the tool that can best reach people with the music of angels. It is no coincidence that this Holy inspired many composers: his "Ode to St. Cecilia" by Georg Friedrich Handel and Henry Purcell, Charles Gounod created a "Solemn mass in honor of Saint Cecilia". The enthusiastic description of Raphael's paintings left Franz Liszt.

Broken tools - how they fit into the proverbial harmony of Raphael?


Indeed, under the feet of Cecilia and her companions contemptuously abandoned musical instruments: a broken viola da Gamba, tambourine-tambourine, triangle, timpani and flute. About their realism Giorgio Vasari wrote with admiration that they "you seem certain it is existing and not written". However, most likely, the tools did not Raphael and his pupil Giovanni da Udine, as also told by Vasari: "Rafael, are very fond of the talent of Giovanni, working over a wooden image of St. Cecilia... instructed Giovanni to write to the body that keeps Saint, they played with nature so perfectly that it seems a relief". However, the organist and musicologist Alexander Maikapar believes that the viewer is looking at the Cecilia of Raphael has the right to wonder "why organetto (or organino) – a small on-portable – St. Cecilia holds so that it is not only impossible to play, but it is even spilling some tube?" The answer, apparently, is that any sounds that are extracted from the earth and material musical instruments, pales before the heavenly harmony. The one who hears Cecilia, angels singing, will not need it "sinful songs of the earth".

Who of saints surrounds the Cecilia in the painting of Raphael? Why are they?


"The ecstasy of St. Cecilia" is close to the iconographic type Sacra Conversazione ie "Holy interview". In paintings of this type of virgin and child is depicted surrounded by saints who could live in a completely different time and be patrons, customers, and the atmosphere of "the interview" is usually quiet contemplation. Something similar we see Rafael with the difference that in the centre of the composition is St. Cecilia. It is surrounded by the Apostle Paul, the Evangelist John, the great theologian St. Augustine and the biblical Mary Magdalene. Why should they?

It is possible, according to Rafael they are best able to translate the idea of the superiority of divine to earthly and Christian philosophy of love. The Johann Wolfgang Goethe in his "Italian journey" wrote about them: "Five saints next to each other, or to one of them we actually do not care, but their earthly existence is recreated so perfectly and there is no doubt that this picture wish of eternal life reconciling himself even the thought that you yourself turn to dust".

The saints depicted so skillfully that, according to Vasari, in their "the figures we are seeing and the thrill of living flesh, and the manifestation of the spirit and the pulse of life in the most fleeting sense of". The Apostle Paul written in red cloak and green tunic, he relies on the sword (perhaps because Christ spoke "It is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword", Matt.10:34), and in the hands of one of his Epistles. John traditionally depicts a young and beautiful, and at his feet is the eagle, a symbol of this Apostle. Augustine and Mary Magdalene also hold objects in their hands a staff and a container of incense. This allocation of items of Raphael as it balances the weight of the body of St. Cecilia. Its geometric forms and straight this tool could disrupt the smooth curvilinear rhythms of the painting, but Raphael finds a fine way to neutralize this effect, duplicating loosely lines the tubes of the body in the folds of the tunic of Mary Magdalene.

Interestingly, of all five depicted the eye in the heavens pays only Saint Cecilia, the other four look in four different directions: Paul – down, John and Augustine – each other (i.e. right and left), and Magdalene is right for us. If you have in mind and the viewer looking at a picture, it turns out that Rafael has taken into account simultaneously three mutually perpendicular directions views. Another interesting detail: all the saints, but clad in sandals Cecilia depicted barefoot. It could mean that she is the only one quite detached from the earth, the other still firmly tied to the land on which we stand.

Know anything about who was the customer of the picture?


Unlike many other paintings – Yes. Ordered the picture of a noblewoman from Bologna named Helen, Dalola. She was prone to religious exaltation, after her death the Catholic Church declared the blessed Helen. Dalola assured that once in a dream before her hearing came a voice, which commanded her to build a chapel in honor of St. Cecilia at the Church of San Giovanni in Monte. Elena recounted the dream to his cousin, a Florentine singer and musician Antonio Pucci. He strongly supported the plans Helena: newly Pucci lost his voice and hoped the patroness of musicians Cecilia is committed to return it. Brother Antonio, the cardinal Lorenzo Pucci, fortunately, was well acquainted with Rafael, and promised to persuade the artist to undertake this work. Glory to Raphael by this time it was at the Zenith of his work was very expensive, but Elena Dalola brothers and Pucci were able to collect a large sum – a thousand Scudi in gold. Ordering seemed interesting artist and, despite strong employment, he went to work.

"The ecstasy of St. Cecilia" multiply the glory of Raphael. Vasari recounts the legend that the artist Francesco Francia that Raphael was commissioned to meet the painting in Bologna and see how it will unload and set in the Church San Giovanni in Monte, in the form of paintings came in such a delight (and some believe this disorder is caused by the envy of more young and talented Rafael) that his heart stopped beating.

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Religious scene

Style of art: Renaissance

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas, Wood

Date of creation: 1517

Size: 220×136 cm

Artwork in selections: 8 selections

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