Raphael for the Holidays: A Gift Guide

It’s that time of year to put out holiday gift lists. Everyone has suggestions and often a focus, and mine is no different: Gifts related to everyone’s favorite painter, Raphael!


Over the course of my research, I’ve read several nonfiction and fiction books that feature Raphael. One of the best for nonfiction that reads like fiction is Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Governor-General award winner Ross King. Yes, Michelangelo is in the title, but Raphael features prominently as his rival painting other commissions for Pope Julius II. 

The Sidewalk Artist

I would of course be remiss not to plug my own work (an author’s gotta do what an author’s gotta do). My first novel with Janice was The Sidewalk Artist, and Raphael is a main character (and yes, absolutely to die for).

Because we loved writing about him, we looked for an excuse to include him in another of our books. Thus, he also figures in our Arthur Ellis Award longlisted historical mystery The Wolves of St. Peter’s as an important minor character.


When The Sidewalk Artist was released, my husband bought me a print of Raphael’s The School of Athens. It’s quite large (4’x3’), and it is nothing less than inspiring to have affordable Renaissance art on my wall. You can find prints and reproductions of many of his artworks in varying sizes and price points. For instance, the National Gallery of London has many from which to choose.


In Toronto, it’s the Art Gallery of Ontario. True, this museum does not currently have any Raphaels, but many museums do. Check this page to find a Raphael near you. He’s around the globe from Sao Paolo to Pasadena to Raleigh, NC, as well as the more expected places like Italy, London, and Paris. And if not, support your local arts organization anyway, as a way to thank Raphael by paying it forward to other artists.


This has nothing to do with Raphael, but it is about a place near and dear to my heart and fulled with art. In the wake of the historic acqua alta, many of Venice’s treasures have been severely damaged. Consider making a donation to Save Venice’s Immediate Response Fund in honor of someone for the holidays.


If you have the time and money, how incredible would it be to find tickets to a Raphael@500 exhibit stuffed in your stocking? Plan a trip to a place exhibiting his work and visit not only his artwork but also the area. Anyone up for a holiday in 2020 to Urbino, Rome, London, or even Washington, DC?

Urbino’s Ducal Palace – now that’s a helluva holiday gift!


In good news, the Polish government has not ceased in its quest to recover its missing Raphael, which I wrote about here.

And thank you to the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries: “With the leadership of Lehigh, Free Library of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania Libraries, the consortium has virtually made available nearly all the region’s medieval manuscripts, including descriptive metadata, which have been released into the public domain and are easily downloadable at high resolution. Users can view, download and compare manuscripts in nearly microscopic detail. It is the nation’s largest regional online collection of medieval manuscripts.” Here’s a digitized copy of a manuscript from Venice in 1504, written by the doge Leonardo Loredan – beautiful!


Rather than a favorite plaque, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you of two short holiday stories Janice and I wrote under the pen name Meadow Taylor. Available only on e-reader, these are perfect for curling up on the couch for an hour with a cup of hot tea.

Finally, thank you so much for your support of my literary endeavors throughout the year. Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season, however you celebrate (but hopefully it’s at least with a book in hand!).

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