Raphael

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And next to the National Gallery London for the Raphael exhibition. It covers Raphael's artistic journey from the Duchy of Urbino where he was born in 1483, to the papal Court in Rome.

The two 'show stopping' exhibits are the Mond Crucifixion (see below - but is this work over-restored, are the colours just too good to be true, is it like Vivaldi played on modern instruments?), and of course the extraordinary portrait of Pope Julius II.

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But for me the highlights were not the show stoppers but the smaller works, particulalrly the studies and sketches which show Raphael's exquisite technique which recalls Michalangelo.

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The most thought provoking work is the haunting self portrait depicting Raphael in his early 20's (shown at the top of this post). This work reminds us that the artist painted his portrait of Pope Julius II. when he was just 28, and nine years later he was dead. A real case of 'smile why it has been'.

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