Genesis, Events and Incidents of Raphael's Preparatory Cartoon of the "School of Athens"


Location: Annenberg Auditorium, Snite Museum of Art (View on map )

Raphael School Of Athens CartoonRaphael (Italian, 1483–1520), Cartoon for the School of Athens, ca. 1508, charcoal, graphite, black ink, and white heightening on paper, 312 × 108 inches. Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan

Join us for a presentation on the historic conservation of the cartoon for Raphael’s School of Athens, one of the Western world’s most heralded Italian renaissance frescoes painted in the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican. Don Alberto Rocca, the director of the esteemed Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan, the 400-year-old museum that is home to masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Caravaggio, and Raphael, will give an overview of the current project: a history of this large-scale, preparatory drawing’s storied past and how it arrived in Milan, an analysis of its condition and earlier restorations, and the painstaking work by conservators necessary to preserve it for the future.

Cartoons were full-scale working drawings meant to transfer an artist’s design to a wall prepared for painting. Because of the destructive nature of the transfer process, very few of these drawings remain intact. Raphael’s cartoon, measuring over 26 × 9 feet and dating to 1508, is one of the few that still exist, and it gives us unique insights into a sixteenth-century icon of art history. Preservation of this monumental drawing will be among the century’s signature achievements in art history and science. 

Free and open to all.

This event is co-sponsored by the Snite Museum of Art and the Medieval Institute.

Originally published at

Part of the visit of Rev. Dr. Alberto Rocca, the director of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan, sponsored by the Medieval Institute and the Snite Museum of Art.  View full details.


Robert Randolf Coleman 
Associate Professor Emeritus, Renaissance & Baroque Art History
Nanovic Fellow

Cheryl K. Snay, Ph.D.
Curator of European Art, Snite Museum of Art
Nanovic Fellow