20-02 - 1. Momart - Raphael Cartoons - BBC VandA_3-min
Share this article

Behind the scenes at the V&A, Momart team assists with removing the glass frames of the priceless Raphael paintings to reveal their secrets.

The Raphael Cartoons are considered among the greatest treasures of the Renaissance. Commissioned in 1515 by Pope Leo X, a set of 10 full-scale illustrations were designed to be sent to the workshop of merchant-weaver Pieter van Aelst in Brussels and transformed into a series of tapestries for Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. Seven of the original Raphael designs survive to this day. Brought to Britain in the 17th century by the Prince of Wales, later Charles I, they are part of the Royal Collection and have been on public display at the V&A since they were loaned by Queen Victoria in 1856.

In August 2019, Momart worked with the V&A and Royal Collection Trust to assist with the extensive photography project. This involved unframing every one of the Cartoons – each measuring around 5 metres wide and 3.5 metres high – to capture three-dimensional scans, infra-red and colour photography, while also carrying out conservation checks, and glass and frame cleaning. With each of the opulent frames weighing close to 1 tonne and the glazing that have sealed the Cartoons not touched for almost 30 years, this was a highly complex project requiring extensive planning, experience and precision.

The results of this process were documented in the second episode of the new BBC series ‘Secrets of the Museum’, where you can see how Momart technicians executed this challenging project and what secrets did the thorough examining of the Cartoons reveal.

‘Secrets of the Museum’ is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer

Momart technicians removing the 1 tonne frame and glazing of the Raphael Cartoon at the V&A

Images: Momart technicians removing the 1-tonne frame and glazing of the priceless Raphael Cartoon at the V&A Museum in London. Still frame from episode 2 of the BBC series ‘Secrets of the Museum’.