Raffaelo Sanzio or Raphael, was born in Urbino, Italy, on the 6th of April, 1483. His father, Giovanni Santi, was a painter in the Court of Urbino. And it is possible that Raphael received his first lessons in painting from him.
Raphael grew to become one of the most important artists of the Italian High Renaissance. His works are known for their ease, grandiose style, and clarity of form and composition.
An Artistic History
In 1499, Raphael went to Perugia, and became an apprentice to Perugino. His early works show a marked influence of this painter. One of Raphael’s first documented works is the altarpiece for the Church of San Nicola of Tolentino.
In 1504, Raffaelo went to Florence. He stayed there for four years, studying the works of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. He slowly began to adopt in his painting the powerful and grand style that is the hallmark of the Renaissance.
In 1508, Raphael moved to Rome. Here, he was commissioned by Pope Julius II, to paint the rooms of his palace at the Vatican. He remained with the Vatican for a long time thereafter, and painted his famous portraits of Julius II, and his successor, Leo X.
He also painted tapestries to decorate the walls of the Sistine Chapel.
Raphael died on the 6th of April, 1520.
Some of his important works are:
St. Sebastian (1501-1502)
The Three Graces (1501-1505): This was Raphael’s first study of the female nude from both the front and the back.
Madonna and Child (1514)
The Marriage of the Virgin (1504): This work suggests Raphael’s transition from the style of his master Perugino, to that of an artist of the Renaissance.
St. George and the Dragon (1505-1506)
La Fornarina (1518-1519)
The Sistine Madonna (1512-1514): This is perhaps, Raphael’s most well-known painting. It is also one that has called for much debate. The expression of horror on the faces of Mary and the child Jesus has baffled art enthusiasts and historians. As has the figure of Saint Sixtus pointing at something and looking aghast. It is only recently that the mystery has been resolved. It is now held that the answer lies in the original position of the painting in S. Sisto in Piacenza. Raphael painted it for the high altar. Opposite this, stood the crucifix. And the troubled expression on the faces of the figures is the reaction to the sight of Death.