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

Angel (fragment of the Baronci Altarpiece)

Oil on wood, 57 x 36 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

This angel is a fragment from the Baronci Altarpiece. The first recorded commission of Raphael - dated 10 December 1500 - is for an altarpiece in Andrea Baronci's chapel in the church of Sant'Agostino in Città di Castello, a small town near Urbino. The altarpiece was dedicated to Nicholas of Tolentino, a 13th-century Augustinian hermit who was not canonized until 1446, though his cult reached an early highpoint of popularity, especially in Città di Castello, around 1500. The altarpiece was badly damaged in an earthquake in 1789, and from 1849 onwards the surviving sections have been kept in various collections.

According to Raphael's preliminary study (Palais des Beaux-Arts, Lille) the figure stood on the lower left, next to St Nicholas of Tolentino. The powerful modelling of the angel's head, and the emphatic expression on his face as he gazes upwards, indicate that it is an early work by Raphael.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.