A “papa terribile”, inspiring awe and even fear, is how contemporaries described Giuliano della Rovere, who reigned from 1503 to 1513 under the name of Pope Julius II. As the patron of Bramante, Michelangelo and Raphael, he exerted a decisive influence on Italian Renaissance art. Raphael’s portrait of him exists in several versions. This one, recently acquired by the Städel, is fascinating by virtue of its quality as well as the extremely complex history of its origin, which assigns it a key role in the development of the pictorial concept.
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