Disputa (Dispute Over the Sacrament) (1509-10) by Raphael

Disputa (Dispute Over the Sacrament) - Raphael - 1509-10

Artwork Information

TitleDisputa (Dispute Over the Sacrament)
Current LocationStanza della Signatura, Vatican Palace, Rome

About Disputa (Dispute Over the Sacrament)

Raphael’s fresco, the Disputa, was painted between 1509 and 1510 as a part of his commission to decorate the Stanze di Raffaello at the Vatican. The painting portrays two different realms, heaven and Earth. In heaven above are Christ, the Virgin Mary, and other biblical figures while below are representatives of the Roman Catholic Church. Raphael used linear perspective to position Christ and Mary as the key figures at the vanishing point.

The Disputa is based on a verse from Revelations 1:7 from The Holy Bible. The fresco can be seen as a portrayal of both Church Militant (below) and Church Triumphant (above). It is considered Raphael’s most theological work of art. It comprises three sections that depict individuals like saints or theologians from throughout history in prayerful adoration during an ongoing debate about doctrine.

Raphael designed this artwork with concepts of composition, form, linearity and proportionality that go back to classical antiquity. This masterpiece celebrates medieval scholasticism with its iconic images layered with different meanings related to theology that only contemporary viewers could understand fully. Today it still serves in teaching an understanding of biblical principles along with Christian church history due to its continued popularity among art devotees worldwide who visit Vatican City annually through Sistine Chapel tours or even as casual tourists simply curious about world-famous art history pieces residing there.

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