Recent exhibitions in this country demonstrate that American taste has historically favored the great pictorial traditions of the Renaissance and Baroque far more avidly than is often realized, and that modern study of this phenomenon largely remains to be undertaken. To this end, the show just opening in Washington at the National Gallery of Art called “Raphael and America”[1] addresses this specific theme of American taste for an individual Renaissance painter of genius within the context of the cinquecentennial celebration this year of the artist’s birth. To a certain extent such a show becomes necessarily a gathering of paintings by the young Raphael, those done before the more monumental and conspicuous Roman projects which largely define his position in the High Renaissance.

With a superb nucleus of works at the National Gallery itself, David...

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