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 Miraculous Draught of Fishes (Luke 5: 1 – 11)
This Cartoon depicts one of the founding moments of Christianity – when the Jewish fisherman Simon, later renamed Peter, is called to be an apostle (or disciple) of Jesus Christ.
Simon, wearing a blue tunic, is kneeling before Christ. He has been fishing unsuccessfully on the Lake of Gennesaret in the Sea of Galilee. Jesus tells him to cast his nets into deep water, which produces such a large catch that the boat overflows with fish. Simon exclaims that he is unworthy of such a miracle. Jesus raises his hand in blessing and replies, "Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men", announcing the role that Simon would now have in helping to spread the Christian faith.
The corresponding tapestry was displayed in the Sistine Chapel on St Stephen day, 26 December, 1519. It is probable that Raphael saw it and even supervised its installation in the chapel.
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