The Raphael Cartoons: The Death of Ananias

The Raphael Cartoons are considered one of the greatest treasures of the Renaissance. These huge, full-scale designs for tapestries were created by Raphael – one of the most important masters of the Renaissance period. Commissioned by Pope Leo X, shortly after his election in 1513, for the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Palace, the Cartoons depict key episodes of the lives of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, the founding fathers of the Christian church.

The Death of Ananias (Acts 5: 1 – 5)

Peter's miracles can both heal or punish sins. Here, Peter punishes a man for his disobedience.

In this scene, the apostles have asked the Christian followers to sell their property and donate the proceeds to the community. A man called Ananias secretly keeps some of the money for himself. Interrogated by Peter, Ananias denies this and falls down dead. He has committed two sins: lying and stealing from the Church.

The corresponding tapestry was delivered later than most of the other tapestries and so was not displayed in the Sistine Chapel on St Stephen day, 26 December, 1519. It's likely Raphael did not see its installation (no later that December 1521) as he died on 6 April, 1520.

Zoom in and explore the Cartoon in ultra-high definition

Click on points of interest to discover more about the painting's characters, symbolism and Raphael's masterly technique.


You can also explore ultra-high resolution colour, 3D and infrared photography of the Cartoon, revealing previously hidden details.

  • 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 layer from the key or use the scroll bar to transition between the layers and observe subtle differences between the charcoal underdrawing and the paint layer, and the paint layer and the surface texture.

Raphael Cartoon, The Death of Ananias (Acts 5: 1 – 5), cartoon for a tapestry, by Raphael, about 1515 – 16, Italy. Museum number: ROYAL LOANS.5. Photo: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Courtesy Royal Collection Trust / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2021

EXPLORE THE CARTOONS

Background image: Raphael Cartoon, The Death of Ananias (Acts 5: 1 – 5), cartoon for a tapestry, by Raphael, about 1515 – 16, Italy. Museum number: ROYAL LOANS.5. Photo: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Courtesy Royal Collection Trust / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2021