Artist reveals first sketches of Pope Benedict XVI

Michael Triegel has been commissioned to paint the pontiff's portrait, after being compared by the Pope to Raphael

“Oh, you are my Raphael!” Pope Benedict XVI cried out, while German artist Michael Triegel was drawing the Holy Father during an audience in Rome on 3 March. The Leipzig-based artist will reveal his early sketches for the painting during an exhibition of his work in Regensburg in April, and the finished portrait will be delivered in September.

Triegel was first commissioned to paint an official portrait of Pope Benedict in 2009 by the diocese of Regensburg, nearby where the Pope has a home. The artist says he is fascinated by religious subjects and is very familiar with Christian iconography. A former student of Arno Rink at the Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts (who also taught Neo Rauch), Triegel is known for his smooth and mannered style. But while his old masterish technique may seem a perfect fit for the Catholic Church, one thing does come as a surprise: the 41-year-old artist is a self-confessed atheist.

As the Pope did not want an extended sitting for the portrait, Triegel had to gather as much material as he could during his brief papal audience, when he was allowed to draw and photograph the pontiff. These preparatory sketches for the portrait will be exhibited from 16 April at the Diocesan Museum of St. Ulrich in Regensburg, along with some 30 other works by the artist, including another clerical portrait of the city’s bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, done in 2009.

Once the painting is completed it will be hung in the foyer of the Institut Papst Benedikt XVI in Regensburg, which collects and studies the writings of the Pope.

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1 Dec 10
16:2 CET


Colm: A rationalist must only be an atheist in this world, where there is no evidence for the supernatural. But it is not an absolute. Of course religious people, including the pope, are not ENTIRELY without reason. They are also not entirely rational, or in many cases even mostly rational. Are you saying that being evangelical is a bad thing? I admit: I think it would be nice if more people were willing to give more weight to reason and evidence than to blind faith in the dogma of their choice.

22 Jun 10
20:53 CET


A rationalist must be an atheist? Is not the present pope's appeal across the divisions essentially to reason?As for 'self-confessed': the point is the apparent incongruity of a non-Christian or non religious believer portraying the vicar of Christ on earth? In any event it is clear that atheism is as evangelical as any religion.

31 Mar 10
15:29 CET


After all the recent upsetting news of Catholic paedophiles, it is good to hear there was one rationalist in the Vatican, albeit temporarily.

25 Mar 10
21:15 CET


The actual quote Michael Triegel said was:"I am not a believer, but I wish I was." Claudia W. Hess, Worthington Gallery, Chicago

25 Mar 10
14:9 CET


"Self-confessed atheist"? Why is that necessary to say? I've never heard of a "self-confessed" catholic or Jew.

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