(b. 1483, Urbino, d. 1520, Roma)

The Vision of Ezekiel

Oil on wood, 41 x 30 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

This painting is a typical example how some elements deriving from Michelangelo are present in Raphael's works from the period after 1517. The origin of the subject is the Bible. But instead of describing the four Cherubim (inspired by Babylonian iconography) as the Prophet did, Raphael represents a classical divinity with the traditional symbols of the Evangelists. A centrally placed tree dominates the low, broad landscape and the sky is stormy and turbulent. The divine group hovers amid the clouds, surrounded by an aura of bright light. The angel, eagle, lion and ox which symbolize the Evangelists, together with two cherubs, spiral around the vigorous central figure.

The balance of this composition impressed Vasari. Ezekiel is so small he can scarcely be recognized in the bottom left of the background, the scenes being completely dominated by his vision.

The painting, now in the Pitti Gallery in Florence, is believed to have been painted in 1518. Like many other paintings by Raphael, it was removed to Paris by Napoleon's army and returned to Tuscany in 1815.