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Prado, Louvre stage major exhibit of the late works of master Raphael

MADRID -- Madrid's Museo del Prado has joined with Paris' Musee du Louvre to stage a major exhibition of the late works of Italian Renaissance master Raphael.

“Late Raphael,” to be shown from June 12-Sept. 16 in the Spanish capital's Prado, is devoted to final years' production of the artist and his studio.

“It is one of the most complex projects of investigation, restoration and exhibition of recent years,” Prado director Miguel Zugaza told reporters at the launch of the event.

The exhibition focuses on the paintings and drawings produced in the last seven years of Raphael, who died in Rome in 1520 aged 37, and then for four more years until 1524 to include his disciples' work.

“This was the period in his career when Raphael produced the work that would have the greatest subsequent impact on European art,” the Spanish museum said in a statement.

“Nonetheless, his paintings have not been fully understood due to chronological issues, to their disconcerting diversity and because the artist did not work by himself.”

Tom Henry, one of the curators of the exhibition, said it was complicated to separate Raphael's work from that of his students, particularly as he did not always work alone.

Organizers have chosen to focus on a period when Raphael was in Rome and adorning the monumental halls of the Vatican alongside artists such as Michelangelo.

The event brings together 44 paintings and 28 drawings from 40 collections including those of the Louvre and Prado.

Among the works displayed is “Self-Portrait with Giulio Romano,” probably the last portrait, according to the Prado, which describes it as an innovative painting that commemorates a quasi-paternal relationship with principal assistant Giulio Romano.

“It is a way of paying our debt to Raphael,” said Miguel Falomir, head of the Italian and French paintings department at the Prado.

“When the Prado opened its doors in 1819, Raphael was the big star,” he said, only to be eclipsed by the Spanish master Diego Velazquez as tastes changed.

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