Close Up: Raphael & The Pope's Librarian

Published in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death, this engrossing book accompanies an exhibition the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Raphael and the Pope’s Librarian  brings together for the first time one of the most fascinating works in the museum’s collection – the Gardner Museum’s portrait of papal librarian Tommaso Inghirami – and a painting from the Vatican Museums depicting an episode in his life. This book tells the story of the first Raphael in America and explores Inghirami’s fascinating career.

Nearly five centuries after his death in 1520, Raphael’s fame remains undiminished. According to the celebrated writer Henry James, Raphael’s work was “semi-sacred.” Gilded Age American collectors swooned over his iconic religious images. They feverishly tried and failed to acquire Raphael’s rare paintings in a market flooded with copies, and the occasional forgery. 

Isabella Stewart Gardner was the first collector to bring a work by Raphael to America, where she named an entire gallery of her new Boston museum after the Renaissance master and installed many of her most celebrated works of art around his portrait of the rotund cleric Tommaso Inghirami.

Raphael and the Pope’s Librarian (October 31, 2019 - January 30, 2020) is part of the Close Up exhibition series, each installment of which sheds new light on an outstanding work of art in the permanent collection.

By Nathaniel Silver and Ingrid Rowland
64 pages, 35 color illustrations
Paul Holberton Publishing, 2019
9.3 x 7.6 inches