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The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, Raphael Santi - Description

17 April 2022
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The Miraculous Draught of Fishes - Raphael Santi. 1515


"The Miraculous Draught of Fishes” is a sketch painted by Raphael Santi in 1515-16 to serve as a prototype for the tapestries for the Sistine Chapel, ordered by Pope Leo X.

The plot of the sketch was copied many times since then by weavers throughout Europe, gaining it wide popularity.

The action takes place on the Lake of Galilee and it is based on one of the Christ’s miracles. The future apostles Peter (Simon) and Andrew worked with their comrades long hours trying to catch fish, but did not succeed.

At the same time, Jesus, having finished his sermon to the people, saw them being in despair, approached them and advised to once again go into the depths and cast the net. Despite their doubting, they did so. Imagine their surprise when both boats got filled with such a rich draught that their net broke, causing the boats to sink.

Scared of such an indisputable miracle, Peter at first was afraid of his sinfulness and rejected Christ, but the latter reassured him: “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch people!” After that, Andrew and Peter followed their teacher.

In the sketch, one can observe the very emotional moment of Peter falling on his knees in a pious impulse, and raising his folded palms to Christ. And, although the Jesus himself is depicted at the edge of the picture, it is to him that the main attention of the viewer is riveted. He radiates the pacation and tranquility, bestowing them on restless and alarmed human souls in the person of his first two apostles.

One can clearly see it in the overall composition and color scheme: from Christ’s side there is a bright blue sky and water, while the side of the fishermen is filled with black screaming birds and the neighboring shore, all in dark colors. Looks like the light divine principle is opposed to the dark human one.

The sketch itself is remarkably detailed both in terms of the landscape and color, which is not typical for the similar works of that period. This definitely contributed in staring a new milestone in the development of the tapestry art, thanks to Raphael.
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