Friday, September 23, 2016



As we have seen in the last blog entry, Raphael's painting about THEOLOGY, the DISPUTA,
in the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican residence in Rome, carried out between 1509 and 1511, is a painting that depicts men interested in theological discussions. (Only one woman appears, Mary, the mother of Christ, in Heaven.)
As we pointed out in our discussions of the religious figures in the lower half, many are men from centuries prior to the Cinquecento (1500's):
on the RIGHT:

on the LEFT:
GREGORY the GREAT, JEROME, FRANCIS,all of whom died before Raphael and Julius II were born.
          As we have also indicated, the painter includes contemporaries as well and people who died
in the QUATTROCENTO, (the 1400's,) some of whom Julius II, the patron, would have known.
on the LEFT:

Bramante, Francesco Maria della Rovere, (scroll over) Raphael himself, Julius II as Gregory the Great,

on the right:
                                                             Pope Innocent VIII, and Pope Sixtus IV.
FOUR POPES from Julius II's lifetime are represented in this image, three in white and gold tiaras:
Next to the artist, Raphael, is the Pope Raphael worked for before Julius, Pope Pius III, the man crowned Pope in Pinturicchio's painting in Siena:

Raphael looks out at the viewer while Pius III looks up to heaven. The bearded man with his back to
us functions as the viewer, facing in the same direction so that we look at the artist and his patrons.
In front of Raphael, as he is standing in the group, is another pope, with a white and gold tiara.
That is ostensibly Gregory the Great, but it is a portrait of Julius II without a beard.

Raphael later paints this bearded portrait, 1511-1512; we can date that later portrait from the beard
because he grew a beard in mourning for the French invasion of Italy and did not shave until
the French had been expelled from the peninsula, from June 27, 1511 to March, 1512.
In the DISPUTA and in Raphael's later portrait Julius is much aged from the portrait we have seen
done of him by Melozzo da Forli around 1477, where he is anxious to please his uncle, Sixtus IV, who was then Pope:

THREE POPES in the DISPUTA appear with white and gold tiaras:  Julius, Sixtus IV, and Innocent VIII.

Chronologically backwards in time these popes are Pontifex Maximus:
JULIUS -                POPE from 1503-1513

INNOCENT VIII - POPE from 1484-1492
SIXTUS IV -          POPE from 1471-84

Who are the POPES between Innocent and Julius?  1492-1503? Of course we have mentioned one:
POPE PIUS III, who was Pope in 1503 before Julius, but his papacy lasted only 26 days.
He appears next to Raphael with a mitre, but he does not wear the tiara here because he was
Pope for so little time.
There is one other pope in the years between Innocent and Julius.
The missing POPE who fills in the period from 1492 to 1503 in the papal lineup and was
POPE from 1492 to 1503, was ALEXANDER VI, a Spaniard named RODRIGO BORGIA.
His profile is so distinctive that we would easily identify him in the fresco of the DISPUTA.
not on the left with Pope Pius III and Pope Julius II:

nor on the right with Pope Innocent VIII and Pope Sixtus IV:
In ancient times when an Emperor or the Roman Senate wanted to erase the memory of a predecessor, the process was called "damnatio memoriae," a cursing of the memory. Bas-reliefs with the image of the predecessor would be damaged, sculpted or painted portraits of the person destroyed, the name of the predecessor wiped out of inscriptions on monuments. Here are two examples, one painted, the other a name in an inscription:
Geta's image is erased in a portrait of Septimius Severus and his wife and two sons; when one of the sons, Caracalla, becomes Emperor, he has the image of his brother, Geta, wiped off the painting:
When Commodus dies, the Roman Senate declares a "damnatio memoriae" of his name; in a
German museum of Roman history exists an inscription in which CO has been eliminated from
the inscription, then reinscribed by modern restorers:

Effectively, in the Raphael painting, Pope Julius II institutes a "damnatio memoriae" for Pope Alexander VI. Julius says in writing on the first day of his papacy,
"I will not live in the same rooms as the Borgias lived. He [Alexander VI] desecrated the Holy Church as none before. He usurped the papal power by the devil's aid, and I forbid under the pain of excommunication anyone to speak or think of Borgia again. His name and memory must be forgotten. It must be crossed out of every document and memorial. His reign must be obliterated. All paintings made of the Borgias or for them must be covered over with black crepe. All the tombs of the Borgias must be opened and their bodies sent back to where they belong—to Spain." (Nigel Hawthorne, p. 219.)
          The decoration of the Stanza della Segnatura by Raphael is part of Julius II's plan to write
his predecessor out of history, and theological history in particular. His anger with Borgia is partly
because Borgia had used the papacy for personal power and had no concern for celibacy in that role.
But Julius II's real animosity stems from the fact that Borgia had made Julius wait until 1503 to be Pope.
Julius had expected, as the nephew of Sixtus IV, to be able to enjoy the papacy when Sixtus died in 1484; but 
he thought that if he helped Innocent VIII take power, he would be rewarded when Innocent died in 1492; instead, Rodrigo Borgia paid off a sufficient number of cardinals to be able to take the reins of the papacy himself in 1492, leaving Julius to fume enough to travel to France to seek the aid of the French king in reprisal. Borgia is Pope from 1492 to 1503 as Pope Alexander VI.
           By 1503, and after again having waited the 26 days of Pius III's papacy, Julius was ready to assume
the papal throne and ready to support artists like Michelangelo, whom he recruited in 1508 to paint the Sistine Ceiling and to carve statues for his tomb, and Raphael, whom he recruited in 1509 to decorate the walls of his personal apartments in the floor right above the Borgia's. Julius was ready for the papacy.
          His own personal historical "REVISIONISM" is painted for all to see in the fresco of the DISPUTA.
All the viewer has to do is count the POPES.
           Raphael, though, seems a bit worried by the omission.

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