Nonetheless, Raphael’s love of art usually came before his love of women. So when in 1814 Ingres painted the first historical genre scene of Raphael with La Fornarina in the studio (during a lunch break at 1.30 pm), she sits fully clothed on his lap, but he keeps hold of his porte-crayon and turns away to look at the underdrawing for her portrait. The implication is that underdrawings are even more interesting than undergarments. Raphael now becomes something very important: a model for the artist whose sexual energies are sublimated in his art. The case was made with typical robustness by Nietzsche in The Will to Power, possibly while looking at a print of Ingres’s painting. He was equally dismissive of the idea that Raphael indulged in casual sex. Great artists have to be physically strong, with plenty of sexual energy – “without a certain overheating of the sexual system a Raphael is unthinkable”. Yet despite the artist’s susceptibility to sensory stimulation and intoxication – “how wise it is at times to be a little tipsy!” – he is usually chaste. His dominant instinct “does not permit him to expend himself in any casual way”.
more from James Hall at the TLS here.