Love, lust and art – presenting Picasso’s etchings of Raphael

The romantic story of the painter Raphael’s involvement with his mysterious Roman mistress – known to posterity as “La Fornarina,” The Baker’s Daughter – is one of the most intriguing stories of the Italian Renaissance. Its combination of love, lust and art made it irresistible to Pablo Picasso, arguably the greatest artist of the 20th century. In 1967, at the astonishing age of 87, Picasso produced a suite of 25 etchings in which he expressed in rapturously erotic terms the affair of Raphael and La Fornarina.

Dr. Judith Testa, a retired professor of art history in the NIU School of Art and Design, will present a talk on this topic, “X-Rated Raphael: Picasso Explores a Renaissance Love Affair,” at 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6, in the auditorium of the NIU School of Art and Design, Arends Building, room 100.

Testa will first recount the legend of La Fornarina and consider a Raphael painting of a beautiful nude woman identified as her portrait. With the story and the painting in mind, the talk will present Picasso’s etchings, works so powerful and explicit in their sexual imagery that they have never been allowed to be exhibited in the United States.

The talk is free and open to the public.

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