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Raphael, Sculpture, and the Chigi Pyramid Tombs

Lara Langer, Research Associate, 2017–2018

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My research continues to explore funerary art in Italy during the early modern period. At the church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome, two breakthroughs in this genre occurred within a few years of each other: the twin cardinal tombs by Andrea Sansovino (1505–1509) and the twin pyramid tombs for the Chigi family, designed by Raphael around 1513 and completed by Gianlorenzo Bernini in the 1650s. In a paper for the 2018 meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, I reexamined Raphael’s motivations to utilize the pyramidal form and proposed that the tombs illustrated both his inventive approach to memorialization and his understanding of sculpture and its materiality.

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