Raphael, Tommaso Inghirami, c. 1510. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.

BOSTON - Nearly five centuries after his death, Raphael’s fame remains undiminished. In 1898, Isabella Stewart Gardner brought the first Raphael to America, a portrait of the pope’s librarian Tommaso Inghirami. Celebrated by Erasmus as “the Cicero of our era,” Inghirami was a high Renaissance celebrity esteemed for his profound erudition, theatrical abilities, and powerful friends, including Raphael himself.

Commemorating the 500th anniversary of the painter’s death in 1520, this exhibition brings together for the first time a painting of an episode from Inghirami’s life (Musei Vaticani, Vatican City) with the Gardner’s own portrait, as well as a special selection of sculpture, drawings and archival materials to tell the fascinating story of the man with the red cap and the collector who brought him to America.


Ex-voto of Tommaso Inghirami Fallen under an Ox-Cart in Rome, c. 1508, attributed to Raphael. Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, Vatican Museums, Vatican City.


Raphael, Procession of Pope Sylvester Ic. 1516–17. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.


Boston Post newspaper clipping (c. 1898) with the headline ‘Fine Raphael Found by Mrs. Jack Gardner’. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.


The Raphael Room at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, photographed in 1903 by Thomas E. Marr and Son. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston