ADA MASOERO: The Art Newspaper

It took a crane to lift the enormous vitrine for Raphael’s restored cartoon, The School of Athens (around 1508), into Milan’s Biblioteca Ambrosiana last October. Protected under the 24 sq. m sheet of glass, the largest surviving Renaissance cartoon will go back on view in the library’s art gallery on 27 March, following a four-year restoration funded by Ramo, the firm of the entrepreneur and late drawings collector Giuseppe Rabolini. The architect Stefano Boeri has redesigned the room dedicated to the work for the first time since the 1960s.

Unlike a typical cartoon, in which the outlines are traced before being pierced with holes and rubbed with charcoal to transfer it to the wall, Raphael’s drawing is highly finished. The artist made the full-scale preparatory drawing for The School of Athens, the most famous of his four frescoes decorating the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican, so he could show the design to his patron, Pope Julius II. The work was perforated, but only to create another cartoon that was destroyed during the transfer process. …Read More

Pictured: Raphael’s restored cartoon The School of Athens (around 1508) © Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana/Mondadori Portfoli