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Frame by Frame

Hero worship, with nerve in ‘Raphael and the Fornarina’

This simperingly saucy and slightly ridiculous picture was painted by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, the great 19th-century neoclassicist. It hangs in the Harvard Art Museums’ temporary galleries at the Sackler Museum, and I adore it.

Not quite as much, perhaps, as Ingres adored Raphael, whom he looked upon as a bona fide god; and certainly not as much as Raphael adored his mistress, a Roman bakeress called Margherita Luti. Known to art history as “La Fornarina” (Italian for bakeress), she’s the one staring out at you with those calm, dark eyes.

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