Raphael’s Late Style and his Use of Imprimatura
Marcia B. Hall
Laura Carnell Professor of Renaissance Art, Temple University
Raphael’s late style was not well defined in 1983. Scholars since Wölfflin tended to attribute to the workshop and particularly to Giulio Romano works they could not fit comfortably into their conception of Raphael and his classic style. The 2012 Prado exhibition on late Raphael made clear that he entered a new phase and systematically increased the drama of his late works. Technical studies have revealed a dark imprimatura that enabled this new chiaroscuro. This paper will trace the development of Raphael’s chiaroscuro mode beginning in the Stanza d’Eliodoro, which he chose in preference to the unione mode of the early mature works, its relationship to concurrent developments in Sebastiano del Piombo, and the consequences for the interpretation of Raphael’s last pictures.