Raphael

1483 - 1520

About the artist

Raphael (1483, Urbino - 1520, Rome), full name Raffaello Sanzio or Raffaello Santi, was an Italian master painter and architect. His father Giovanni Santi, a man of culture, was in contact with the court of Urbino. He gave his son his first instruction in painting and introduced him to humanistic philosophy at the court. The first record of Raphael’s activity as a painter in Perugia is found there in a document of 1500: the young painter was commissioned to help paint an altarpiece (completed in1502). Between 1501 and 1503 he painted the Coronation of the Virgin for the Oddi Chapel in the church San Francesco. The famous master Pietro Perugino enabled Raphael to acquire extensive professional knowledge. Four paintings by Raphael, The Marriage of the Virgin, Vision of a Knight, Three Graces, and St. Michael, are masterful examples of narrative painting. Although he had learned much from Perugino, Raphael’s desire for knowledge was driving him beyond Perugia. In 1504 Raphael arrived in Florence. He studied there the works of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo (High Renaissance), and Masaccio (Early Renaissance). A great series of Madonnas between 1505 and 1507 are influenced by Leonardo. Raphael was called to Rome toward the end of 1508 by Pope Julius II. Raphael spent the last 12 years of his short life in Rome. His first task was to paint a cycle of frescoes in the Stanze of the Vatican: the Stanza della Segnatura (1508–11), the Stanza d’Eliodoro (1512–14) and the Stanza dell’Incendio (1514–17). The decoration of the Stanza della Segnatura was perhaps Raphael’s greatest work. Raphael’s decoration of the papal apartments continued after the death of Julius in 1513 into the succeeding pontificate of Leo X until 1517. The Madonnas Raphael painted in Rome, show grandeur. Raphael became the most important portraitist in Rome during the first two decades of the 16th century. In 1514 Leo X chose him to work on the basilica of St. Peter’s alongside Bramante. When Bramante died, Raphael assumed the direction of the work. He died at the age of 37 years. His body was buried in the Pantheon in Rome.