Januszczak on Raphael
Waldemar Januszczak explains why he made a special trip to Rome.
I never thought I’d see the day when they actually managed to get the Raphael Tapestries up inside the Sistine Chapel. I mean those of us that think this is the greatest room in art, which I do, have always wondered what it must look like when it’s complete. Because although it’s magnificent with the Michelangelo frescoes and all the other paintings by Botticelli and Perugino, it’s an absolute treasure trove of Renaissance art, you’ve always got to keep reminding yourself that it’s not complete because it needs the tapestries in it to finish it, so in my adult life there’s never been an opportunity to see these tapestries. The Raphael Cartoons are probably the greatest works of Renaissance art in Britain. The fact that they’ve survived, the fact that they’re at the V&A is just on its’ own a stupendous piece of good luck on the part of Britain. To have those there is magnificent. Now if you think not only are the Cartoons there, but they’re actually bringing over the Tapestries as well that go with them, I mean that’s an enormously exciting and significant event. Anybody in their right minds will rush over there and see this once in a life time opportunity to see the Raphael’s and the Cartoons. That chemistry between the two things, I really can hardly wait. It’s going to be so exciting.
Taste is a funny thing and Raphael is out of fashion at the moment, I think that’s true. People don’t get as excited about him as they do about Michelangelo or about Leonardo. So of the three great geniuses of the Renaissance I suppose it’s fair to say he’s the one we get less excited by. Having said that, he bought something absolutely unique to the Renaissance and to see an event like this in London where the Tapestries are united with the cartoons I think will prove to people who in any way doubted, first of all how important Raphael was and how great it is that the V&A has the cartoons, but second the Tapestries which we tend to walk past on our way through the stately homes, the tapestries are great magnificent, wondrous, rare woks of art of the Renaissance. So if Raphael gets looked at again, if Tapestries get looked at again then that’s a win win win situation for the V&A and I’m sure it will happen because these are astonishing pieces.
As a prelude to their display alongside the Cartoons used to create them at the V&A in September, Raphael's famous tapestries were hung in the Sistine Chapel in July 2010.
"I've always wondered what the greatest room in art would look like when it was complete", said Waldemar Januszczak in July 2010 when he visited a rare hanging of Raphael's tapestries in the Sistine Chapel. The event was staged as a prelude to the historic V&A exhibition which will bring together four of the tapestries and the magnificent cartoons used to make them for the first time in 495 years. In this short film, Januszczak urges the public not to miss out on the London show.
"Raphael brought something unique to the Renaissance. I think an event like this in London will prove to anyone who doubts it first how important he was and how great it is that the V&A has the cartoons, and second that tapestries we tend to walk past are great, magnificent, wondrous and rare works of art of the Renaissance."