Julius IIGiuliano della Rovere was born in 1443; he took the title of Julius II when elected pope in 1502. A brilliant administrator and belligerent defender of the temporal power of the papacy, he led the papal army in attempts to expand and consolidate the territories of the Papal States.
He was an important patron of the arts. He employed Bramante to rebuild St Peter's, Michelangelo to sculpt his tomb (for which the Gallery's 'Entombment', attributed to Michelangelo, may have been painted) and to fresco the Sistine ceiling, and Raphael to decorate the suite of rooms the Pope occupied in the Vatican (Raphael Stanze).
Raphael's portrait of Julius in the Gallery shows him in a sorrowful mood, after his defeat at Bologna, but there is strength and determination in the grip of the hand.
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN