The main figure in the center of the sheet is a preparatory study for Adam in the Disputation of the Holy Sacrament fresco in the Stanza della Segnatura, the first room of Giulio II della Rovere's new apartment in the Vatican to be decorated by Raphael after his arrival in Rome in late 1508. In the left corner, the artist has drawn a quick sketch with a possible layout of the vault in the same room.
Raphael interprets Adam through the ancient cultural canons he so admired. The sketch shows precise parallels to classic models, such as the pose likely derived from the famous Boy with Thorn sculpture, the idealized facial features and the detailed rendering of the nude body. Conversely however, the figure also shows a strong affinity with Michelangelo’s drawings for his Nudes in the Sistine Chapel, created during the same period just a few meters away. However, whereas Michelangelo's figures are animated with a dramatic interior tension, Raphael's subjects are characterized by a more meditative manner, affected by a subtle feeling of concern born from the knowledge of human imperfection. This conscious focus on the representation of human emotions clearly derives from the artist's study of Leonardo during his earlier time in Florence, as do the Leonardesque tones reflected in the chiaroscuro which softly engulfs the figure and contributes to his harmonious fusion with the space around him.
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