THE MIRACULOUS DRAUGHT OF FISHES
The works of Raphael number in the hundreds, of them he was commissioned by the church for a number of paintings and The Miraculous Draught of Fishes was one of them works. He was commissioned by Pope Leo X to paint a set of ten cartoons to be hung in the Sistine Chapel. The cartoons were to represent the lives of the saints Peter and Paul. The set of ten were made on tapestries and were designed to complement the well-known paintings of Michelangelo displayed in the same room. The Paintings were also designed to take advantage of the natural lighting inside the Chapel, he did this by highlight the source of light in the paintings to work with the light coming in from the windows.
The tapestries had to be created in mirror image of what Raphael imagined the final product to look like. This was because when the image was printed it would portray the image in reverse from what was shown. Raphael designed this piece of art to allow the natural movements of people’s eyes, which is from left to right. Raphael planned this painting so that the eye would be naturally drawn to Jesus on the left by using distinct lines.
In the image we see the scene from Matthew 12:24 where Jesus tells Peter after a long fruitless day of fishing to cast his net into the water and they draw in a great number of fish, so much so that they struggle to pull it in. We can see also in this image that Raphael uses groups of three, with three people on the left and right and also three herons in the foreground. The Pattern of objects specifically around Jesus and the fisherman is in a circle, this is to let the eye go around and to focus on Jesus.
The Boat on the right laden with fish is carrying Jesus along with Peter and Andrew and in the other boat are partners of Peter with whom he fishes. We see that they are presented in the style of the renaissance period in that they are very muscular. In the one boat we also notice that they are more worried about the fish then they are of Jesus but the boat with Jesus they are in disbelief and praying because of this miracle. The Boats are placed so as to give the appearance that they are just slowly drifting by.
In the background are attention is drawn to the lake that meets the sky and gives us the effect that the difference between Earth and sky are faded away. Also in the background on the right hand side are two groups of people the people closer to the catch are launching a boat to try to get any of the left over catch while the people further back are the people with whom Jesus talked to before the miracle.
Raphael’s ten cartoons are still to this day displayed on special occasions in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, but much easier to find are the later printings of the works. The Steady hands of Raphael will ever be immortalized in this great work of art commissioned for the Catholic Church.