Raphael Sanzio (1483-1520), simply known as “Raphael” to the world, was an Italian High Renaissance painter and architect. Wikipedia beautifully said, “Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of (the High Renaissance) period.” His art is notable because of its:
- Clarity of form
- Ease of composition
- Expression of the “Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur”
Although Raphael only lived to be 37, he was a highly productive artist. He ran a large workshop and left behind a tremendous legacy: a sizeable body of artwork. Currently, the Vatican Palace houses many of his works. “The School of Athens,” which is held at the Vatican, is his best-known work. Read on to learn more about the incomparable Raphael.
The Early Life and Education of Artist Raphael Sanzio
Raphael’s early life and education prepared him to be an artist history would remember. He was born in Urbino, Italy, to a father who was the court painter for the Duke of Urbino. When he was 8 (in 1491), his mother, Màgia, died. His father passed on a few years later in 1494. After that, 11-year-old Raphael was put under the care of his only paternal uncle, Bartolomeo, who was a priest.
It became apparent that young Raphael had a knack for painting in the early years of his life. It was said that Raphael had been a great help to his father, who likely taught him the basic principles of art and humanistic philosophy. The fruits of his father’s labor were noticed in Raphael’s teen years when he first sketched a self-portrait.
In 1500 Raphael became an apprentice to Pietro Vannunci, also known as Perugino. At the time Perugino was working on frescos at the Collegio del Cambia. The once-in-a-lifetime apprenticeship spanned four years. Biography stated,
“During this (apprenticeship) period, Raphael developed his own unique painting style, as exhibited in the religious works the Mond Crucifixion (circa 1502), The Three Graces (circa 1503), The Knight’s Dream (1504) and the Oddi altarpiece, Marriage of the Virgin, completed in 1504.”
Italian Renaissance Painter Sanzio Branches Out on His Own
In 1504 Sanzio moved to Florence, an act that declared his artistic independence and the beginning of a career that would ultimately lead to fame and fortune. It was in Florence that Sanzio was utterly captured by the works of…
- Fra Bartolommeo
- Leonardo da Vinci
These artists not only inspired the blossoming painter but also influenced his personal work. Raphael appreciated the innovation these artists demonstrated, as well as the depth of their composition. “By closely studying the details of their work, Raphael managed to develop an even more intricate and expressive personal style than was evident in his earlier paintings,” stated Raphael Biography.
The Early Works of Artist Raphael Sanzio
During the next three years, from 1504 to 1507, Raphael created a series of paintings known as the “Madonnas.” The artist wrapped this theme up in 1507 with “La belle jardinière.” Later that year Sanzio crafted an incredible piece titled “The Entombment” which expanded on the ideas declared in Michelangelo’s “Battle of Cascina.”
For Raphael, it was back to Rome in 1508 at the urging of Pope Julius II. Rome proved to hold door after door of opportunity for the artist. While there he had the high honor of painting in the Vatican. Although he wasn’t well-known upon his arrival in Rome, he became a sought-after artist soon, eventually coming to be known as a master painter. It was during this time in Rome that he earned the nickname “prince of painters” due to his talent, charm, and good looks.
The years 1509 to 1511 were particularly productive for Raphael. The artist “toiled over what was to become one of the Italian High Renaissance’s most highly regarded fresco cycles, those located in the Vatican’s Stanza della Segnatura (“Room of the Signatura”). The Stanza della Segnatura series of frescoes include The Triumph of Religion and The School of Athens. In the fresco cycle, Raphael expressed the humanistic philosophy that he had learned in the Urbino court as a boy,” wrote a contributor to Biography.
The Last Years of Raphael’s Life
From 1508 to 1520, Raphael resided in Rome and produced more artwork than ever. From 1508 to 1517, the artist created “The Stanze” (a cycle of frescoes created for a suite of rooms in the Vatican). From 1508 to 1511, he executed one of the most important projects of his lifetime: The decoration of the Stanza della Segnatura.
After Julius II had a new basilica of St. Peter constructed, “…he committed into (Raphael’s) hands the interpretation of the philosophical scheme of the frescoes in the Stanza della Segnatura. This theme was the historical justification of the power of the Roman Catholic Church through Neoplatonic philosophy,” wrote the editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. The frescoes “Disputa,” “The School of Athens,” “Parnassus,” and “Cardinal Virtues” were created for Stanza della Segnatura. Learn more about these frescoes, as well as many other ingenious works by Raphael, here.
On his 37th birthday, Raphael passed away. His funeral mass fittingly took place at the Vatican. He is buried at the Pantheon in Rome.
Key Takeaways about Italian Renaissance Painter Raphael Sanzio
Here are a few important takeaways about Italian master artist Raphael:
- The Vatican Palace holds most of his artwork today.
- “The School at Athens” is perhaps his most famous piece of artwork.
- He, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo form the trinity of great Italian masters of the High Renaissance period.
- He was incredibly productive and created many pieces of work during his lifetime.
- He completed a four-year apprenticeship with the artist Perugino
- He lived the last 12 years of his life in Rome under the patronage of Pope Julius II.
- He lived to be 37 years old.
Recreate the Best Works of Raphael Sanzio on Your Computer
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Patterns included in the Raphael Sanzio set are:
- Madonna with the Fish
- Spasimo Di Silica
- Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione
- St. George and the Dragon
- Madonna dell Granduca
- The Small Cowpter Madonna
- Portrait of Maddalena Doni
- Young Man with an Apple
- Lady with a Unicorn
…and many more.
Take a look at the intricate Raphael Sanzio SegPlay PC patterns here.
What do you consider to be Raphael Sanzio’s most important piece of artwork? Why? Share your thoughts in the “comments” section below.
Read additional Segmation blog posts about famous historical artists:
- Did Michelangelo Invent Paint-by-Numbers?
- Caravaggio – Italian Master of Lighting
- Masaccio – Early Renaissance Painter
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