Funeral Panel of the Union of St. Raphael
18th – 19th century, Oil on panel
This panel, one of many paintings with a macabre subject in the Franco Maria Ricci collection, bears a partially obscured inscription (the sixth word is missing), which reads: 'Pray to God for the soul / (of the members?) of the Union / of St. Raphael, Archangel'. It would have been part of the decor of a chapel or the meeting place of a religious brotherhood. The drama of the human skull is countered by an incitement to prayer, a clear reminder of both the transience of life and the only way to salvation. The quality of the painting and the draftsmanship recall the artistic culture of the late-18th or the beginning of the 19th century.