The Raphael Cartoons are a set of seven full-scale designs for a series of tapestries created by Raphael and are considered one of the greatest treasures of the Renaissance.
In 2019, as part of the project to mark the 500th anniversary of Raphael's death, the V&A worked with Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation to carry out an ultra-high-resolution recording of the seven Cartoons in colour, 3D and infrared. This work was generously supported by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.
The images from the project are crucial for the study and future care of the Cartoons, as well as offering us unprecedented access to these monumental masterpieces.
Discoveries revealing new insights
Working with these high-definition photographic assets we have been able to discover previously hidden details, providing us with a fascinating insight into Raphael's design process, how the Cartoons were used, and how they have fared over the past 500 years.
Explore a selection of these discoveries and what they reveal in our slideshow below
Explore the Cartoons
Explore ultra-high resolution colour, 3D and infrared photography of all seven Cartoons in our viewer below
- Colour (visible paint layer) – Explore the Cartoon's paint layer, including Raphael's individual brushstrokes.
- 3D (surface layer) – Discover evidence of the Cartoon's treatment over the past 500 years, including any restoration work, by exploring its unique surface texture.
- Infrared (drawing layer) – Peer below the paint surface to Raphael's original charcoal underdrawings.
Select your Cartoon from the key and a photographic layer to explore. Try selecting more than one photographic type and see the layers reveal themselves as you move your cursor across the image.
Use the scroll bar in the viewer below to transition between the layers and observe subtle differences between the underdrawing and the paint layer, and the paint layer and the surface texture.
Find out more about each of the Cartoons
You may find it useful to explore colour, 3D and infrared images for all Cartoons using the research tool Mirador. This platform is a configurable, extensible, and easy-to-integrate image viewer, which enables image annotation and comparison of images from repositories dispersed around the world.