Raphael - Tommaso Inghirami, about 1510

Raphael (Urbino, 1483 - 1520, Rome)

Tommaso Inghirami, about 1510

Oil on panel , 90 x 62.5 cm (35 7/16 x 24 5/8 in.)


Lost in thought, Inghirami gazes up and to the right. Raphael may have chosen this angle to diminish the impact of the sitter’s lazy right eye. Seated at a desk with pen in hand, Inghirami copies text from a red leather-bound book into a sheaf of papers called a quire. Even after the advent of the printing press, scholars continued to create lavish, hand-copied editions of rare texts for rich patrons like Pope Julius II, whom Inghirami served as papal librarian.

The red hat and robe identify him as a canon of Saint Peter’s, one of the men responsible for this papal basilica and an office to which Inghirami was appointed in January 1509. This portrait probably commemorates his promotion and possibly memorializes his likely introduction in the same year to Raphael, then working on frescoes in the pope’s apartments of the Vatican Palace.

Gardner bought this painting in 1898. She and Berenson haggled over the price of £15,000 for several months, the collector pleading poverty and the dealer claiming that his offer represented a steal. Far from it. Seizing the moment, a second art dealer stepped in and proposed the same painting to Gardner at half the price, forcing Berenson to concede for £7,000 and leading Isabella’s husband, John L. Gardner, Jr., to believe that Berenson was cheating them.