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Devon Dikeou, “Pray for Me”—Pope Francis I, 2014, ten friarleros. Installation view, 2017. Photo: Jason Mandella.

Devon Dikeou

James Fuentes

Devon Dikeou, “Pray for Me”—Pope Francis I, 2014, ten friarleros. Installation view, 2017. Photo: Jason Mandella.

Before David H. Koch affixed his name to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exterior plaza; before the Rockefellers funded the Museum of Modern Art’s international program during the Cold War; before Solomon R. Guggenheim, J. P. Morgan, and Andrew Carnegie marshaled their fortunes toward “refining” American culture; before several centuries’ worth of upstanding burghers, upstart aristocrats, and absolutist royals who amassed collections and awarded commissions, there were popes. How different the history of Western art would be without Julius II, who commissioned Raphael’s Stanza della Segnatura frescos and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling between orchestrating military campaigns against Venice and France.  

Raphael’s Portrait of Pope Julius II, 1511–12, belongs to a veritable subgenre of painting: the seated pope. In the 1950s, Francis Bacon resuscitated this motif with his

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