William Godwin's Diary


In 1521, an inventory of the ten Vatican tapestries was made in their existing state, and although in 1527 they were dispersed, all ten had been returned sometime after 1550. There is no record of Raphael’s tapestries having been exhibited in London prior to 2010. In fact, at the time of Godwin's diary entry, apart from a brief showing at the Louvre during the French Revolution, they had not left the Vatican. In 1623 seven of the original cartoons were purchased by King Charles I to fabricate reconstructions at the Mortlake tapestry factory, and the finished products have remained in England ever since.

Godwin recorded seeing Raphael's tapestries on two occasions. According to The Times, the 'nine magnificent tapestries...executed from the cartoons of Raphael, by order of Pope Leo X for King Henry VIII, sold by order of the Commonwealth, in 1649 among other property of King Charles I and puchased by the Spanish Ambassador...are just returned from Spain and open for public inspection...at the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly' (10 November 1824).

See also John White and John Shearman, ‘Raphael's Tapestries and Their Cartoons’, The Art Bulletin, Vol. 40, No. 3 (Sep., 1958) and The Raphel Tapestry Cartoons at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.