Raphael’s painting “Pope Leo X with Two Cardinals” was completed between 1518-1520 and is currently housed at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, on exhibition at the Palazzo Pitti. The work was commissioned to glorify the Medici and the authority of the Pope, but it depicts two of the worst popes in history – Leo X and Clement VII. This contradiction makes this artwork an intriguing blend of propaganda and subversion.
Raphael’s innovative style is exemplified in this work, as he creates a narrative through portraiture, setting a new standard for other High Renaissance artists. He achieved pure harmony in his art, most resembling Phidias. The facial expressions of each figure shown are serious and naturalistic, conveying great depth of character.
This painting is one of Raphael’s last works and designed during his last years. It has undergone numerous restorations throughout its lifespan which have contributed to its long historiography. A copy of the so-called Madonna of Leo X can be seen in Weiss collection, Zurich which adds to our understanding of how important this painting was to Raphael’s progression as an artist.
Overall, “Pope Leo X with Two Cardinals” represents not just religious figures but also power politics that were present during the time period where it was painted. Its many complexities make it a valuable addition to any appreciators’ collection or viewer interested in art history analysis.