They should have returned home, to the Pope’s Museums, at the beginning of June after their fine display at the Scuderie del Quirinale in the keenly awaited exhibition “Raffaello 1520 - 1483”. Instead the health emergency dictated a forced suspension, a sort of enchanted slumber, of around three months.
We refer to the ten works loaned by the Vatican Museums for what was rightly defined “the exhibition event of the year”, organised in collaboration with the Vatican Museum institution for the celebrations for the fifth centenary of the death of the divin pittore Raphael Sanzio.
The solemn reopening of the exhibition space last 2 June enabled lost time to be recovered, and more than 160 thousand visitors were able to admire the masterpieces on display until the end of August.
At the end of the exhibition, and thanks to an exceptional extension of the loans, the three crates containing the precious "cargo" which testifies to and demonstrates Raphael in his entirety, not only as a court painter, but also a multifaceted artist, architect of the Fabbrica di San Pietro and conservator of antiquity, now return to the Vatican, to their places of origin: they range from the marvellous cartoon by Giulio Romano with "The Stoning of Saint Stephen", to the tapestry depicting "The Sacrifice at Lystra" based on a drawing by Raphael for the Sistine Chapel.
The Vatican collections are also preparing to welcome once again the great oil on canvas by Pietro Vanni, an intense example of nineteenth-century history painting, on the theme of the painter's funeral and which testifies to the upheaval in the court of Pope Medici caused by his death.
Even some ancient works return to their usual location after more than six months of "displacement": these include the beautiful marble head of Dace and the two fragments of tabula iliaca with fourteen scenes from the Odyssey. These artefacts illustrate the relationship of the artist, who became “Commissioner of Antiquities” in 1515, with Rome and with the antique.
The two plaster casts of Cardinal Bibbiena's Stufetta, the small room on the third floor of the Apostolic Palace, richly decorated with grotesques by the Raphaelesque school, have also returned. The casts were expressly requested precisely because the Stufetta is an example of the master's deep bond with classical art, in this case with the painting of the Domus Aurea.