The subject of this painting is taken from the New Testament (John: 11). At the request of the sisters Martha and Mary, Jesus visits the grave of their brother Lazarus and raises him from the dead.

This work was painted for Cardinal Giulio de' Medici in Rome in competition with Raphael's 'Transfiguration', now in the Vatican Gallery. It was subsequently taken to the Cathedral of Narbonne. Some of the main figures are based on drawings which Michelangelo supplied for the guidance of Sebastiano.

The painting was purchased from the Angerstein collection.


  • Title: The Raising of Lazarus
  • Creator: Sebastiano del Piombo
  • Date Created: about 1517-19
  • Physical Dimensions: 381 x 289.6 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
  • School: Italian
  • More Info: Explore the National Gallery’s paintings online
  • Inventory number: NG1
  • Artist Dates: about 1485 - 1547
  • Artist Biography: Venetian-born and trained, perhaps by Giorgione, Sebastiano moved in 1511 to Rome, where he became a major portraitist and painter of religious subjects. He was a protégé of Michelangelo, who significantly influenced his art. His late style could be dark and sombre, and his figures have an almost clumsy force. Sebastiano's early Venetian works resemble those by Giorgione. The Pope's banker, Agostino Chigi, one of the great patrons of the time, recognised his talent and brought him to Rome, where he also painted for patrons such as Pierfrancesco Borgherini. It was in Rome that Sebastiano became one of the rare friends of Michelangelo, and was drawn into his rivalry with Raphael. This culminated in Michelangelo providing designs for Sebastiano's 'Raising of Lazarus', in an effort to outshine its direct competitor, Raphael's 'Transfiguration'. After Raphael's death, Sebastiano was the foremost painter in Rome and the first artist to return there (from Venice in 1529) after the 1527 Sack of Rome. The Pope rewarded his service by making him Keeper of the Papal Seal (hence his name the Piombo).
  • Acquisition Credit: Bought, 1824

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