From December 2004 through January 2005, in collaboration with the Foundation for Italian Art & Culture, The Frick Collection displayed La Fornarina by Raphael Sanzio (1483-1520) from the National Gallery of Art at the Palazzo Barberini in Rome. Painted around 1518 and signed by the artist, this celebrated work has never before been exhibited in the United States.
According to legend, the model was the daughter of a baker (fornaio) and the artist's lover. La Fornarina stands out among works by Raphael — an artist renowned for his mastery of female beauty — for its virtuoso depiction of a nude sitter and the diaphanous material she holds. The extraordinary sensuousness of the painting and the ensuing legend have earned it a special place in the history of art, inspiring interpretations and variations by artists from Raphael's contemporaries to Picasso.
The painting was displayed in the Oval Room and was accompanied by an illustrated booklet by Dr. Claudio Strinati, Superintendent of the National Museums of Rome. Following its presentation at the Frick, the work traveled to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.