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Raphael, The Deliverance of St. Peter (1514, Apostolic Palace, Vatican)

Had Raffaele done this only to show his Art in the Management of the Clair-Obscure, had it been a Jeu d’ Esprit, in Painting it had been much less considerable; but That moreover contributes vastly to the Expression, That fierce Flash of Light given by the Angel in the Centre of the Picture, together with the Horror of a Prison strikes forcibly upon the Imagination: The Iron Grate thro’ which those Figures appear is plac’d there very Artfully, it immediately gives you the Idea of a Jail, and those Dark Lines cutting the Brightness behind into so many small parts gives a Flickering, and a Dazzle that nothing Else could possibly have done. And though it must be confess’d the Angel with the Apostle Deliver’d breaks the Unity of the Action, yet one cannot wish this Picture was without this Fault; it is Enrich’d by it, and you have one of the Finest Pictures in the World of two Figures as it were flung into a spare Corner of This; for these two Figures are exquisite: Nor are they without their farther Use; the Mind is something relieved from the Concern ’tis in upon seeing the Abject Condition of the Apostle in Chains: Here he is seen as we should Wish him; at Liberty, and under the Conduct, and Protection of his Heavenly Guide.

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