The Triumph of Galatea, 1511
Fresco, 116.14 x 88.58 inches [295 x 225 cm]
Villa Farnesina, Rome
The Triumph of Galatea, which Raphael painted in 1512 in the palazzo owned by the banker Agostino Chigi (the later Villa Farnesina) is perhaps the supreme evocation of the glorious spirit of antiquity. Much of the beauty of Galatea's face Raphael puts in its hint of shyness and innocence, as if she were utterly unaware of her physical charms; the expression of devotion on her face is not unlike the angel of Leonardo in Verrocchio's Baptism of Christ. The composition of Raphael is clearly constructed upon the interplay of diagonals. The arrows strung in the bows of the putti establish directional lines which are taken up in the lower half of the picture. Thus the diagonal issuing from the arrow top left, for example, is continued in the dolphins' reins, while the arrow top right is restated in the body of the twisting sea nymph. Raphael positions the head of the beautiful Galatea subtly but clearly at the exact centre of the composition.