Raphael, Pope Leo X
No hint of chaos
The painting is dominated by Leo, whose corpulent body and sumptuous dress are the only indications of the pope’s penchant for excess. He looks off into the distance, beyond the edge of the painting, and holds a magnifying glass while turning the page of his Bible. This gives the impression that he is reacting to someone who has just entered the room. The poses of both other men indicate their relationships with Leo. Giulio stands on the left of the painting, looking out to the other direction; his posture and gaze mirror Leo’s. Giulio was considered a man of great authority, and was called by a Vatican chronicler, “Leo’s other self.” Luigi de’ Rossi, the pope’s cousin and best friend, is the only person who looks at the viewer, and his hands are touching the pope’s chair. The two had been raised together, and Leo was said to have been devastated after Luigi’s 1519 death of gout (an affliction that habitually plagued the Medici). The painting is dominated by red paint, the color of the papacy.