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The Portrait of Pope Leo X and Cardinals Luigi de' Rossi and Giulio de' Medici is one of Raphael's greatest masterpieces which he executed without assistance from any other artist.
It is a group portrait that focuses on the Pope and the two cardinals, Giulio de' Medici to the left and Luigi de' Rossi to the right. In addition, a finely carved bell is placed on the table and near it, lies an illuminated book that is open and Pope has put his right hand on it. These objects are said to reveal an exquisite taste of the priest who was an active patron of the arts. This portrait depicts the Pope at his middle age with his sight appearing to be strained.
People who connect Raphael to paintings of idealised figures and beautiful Madonnas must have been utterly shocked to see this portrait. The reason is the painting is different from other portraits completed by the artist such as Portrait of Julius II. All in all, this is one of the most revolutionary masterpieces to be completed by Raphael.
The style used to execute the Portrait of Pope Leo X and Cardinals Luigi de' Rossi and Giulio de' Medici is High Renaissance completed by the master of Renaissance painting Raphael. In this painting, Raphael illustrates his style of narrative portraiture. This technique set a new standard for artists who specialised in High Renaissance art in Florence, Venice and Rome. Due to the impeccable style, the Portrait of Pope Leo X and Cardinals Luigi de' Rossi and Giulio de' Medici by Raphael is one of his most admired and significant works. This is due to the quiet atmosphere and a uniform tone of colour that is portrayed in red nuances to show the Pope's power.
Historically, the Pope called on Raphael one of his favourite artists to execute the portrait. Consequently, the Pope commissioned the painting. Leo X asked the work to be completed for a specific purpose and this is the reason the painting was moved from Rome to Florence as the Pope could not attend his nephew's wedding in person. As a result, the portrait was placed on the table to make the wedding couples happy as well as the guests. In this day and age, Portrait of Pope Leo X and Cardinals Luigi de' Rossi and Giulio de' Medici by Raphael is at Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Raphael's painting may be considered revolutionary, but several precedents to the painting exist such as the Cardinal Bandinello Sauli, His Secretary, and Two Geographers by Sebastiano del Piombo in 1516. Sebastiano del Piombo was also an Italian painter of High Renaissance who worked alongside Raphael in Rome, and among other notable works by the artist include The Violinist.