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V&A to display Raphael tapestries

28th May 2010

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) will display four tapestries designed by Raphael for the Sistine Chapel when the Pope visits the UK later this year.

Pope Benedict XVI will tour England and Scotland in September and the museum has borrowed the pieces from the Vatican to mark the occasion.

They will be hung beside Raphael's 'cartoons', which are the artist's original designs for the tapestries. The cartoons have been held by the V&A since 1865 and are considered too fragile to leave the museum.

Mark Jones, director of the museum, said: 'This is a marvellous opportunity to see great Renaissance masterpieces reunited for the first time in almost 500 years.'

Pope Leo X commissioned Raphael to design the works, which were woven in Brussels and sent to Rome to be displayed. The artist never saw the tapestries and their original cartoons next to each other.

Last year, Head of a Muse, a drawing by Raphael, sold for GBP 29.2 million at auction, beating the previous record of GBP 8.1 million for an Old Master sketch.

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