Raphael, who painted prolifically and passionately for only 37 years of his life, left a comet-shaped artistic legacy throughout the height of the Italian High Renaissance.
Raphael, who painted prolifically and passionately for only 37 years of his life, left a comet-shaped artistic legacy throughout the height of the Italian High Renaissance. His ability to depict beauty ideals from the Renaissance Humanist era was breathtakingly innovative. His genuine lust for life was evident on the canvas. He is regarded as one of the three master artists of his era's holy trinity, alongside Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. (The Art Story, n.d.)
Raphael produced a ton of work, maintained an unusually sizable workshop, and left behind a sizable body of work despite passing away at age 37. Giorgio Vasari first noted that his career was naturally divided into three phases and styles: his early years in Umbria, followed by about four years spent absorbing the artistic traditions of Florence, and then his final, hectic and successful twelve years in Rome.
The frescoed Raphael Rooms in the Vatican Palace, which served as the focal point and the most significant piece of his career, are home to many of his creations. The School of Athens in the Vatican's Stanza della Segnatura is the most well-known piece. After his formative years in Rome, his workshop produced a large portion of his work from his drawings, but with a significant loss in quality. He had a considerable impact during his lifetime, but most people were familiar with his collaborative printmaking outside Rome. (Raphael - Wikipedia, 2021)
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Giovanni Santi and Magia di Battista Ciarla were the parents of Raphael, who lost his mother in 1491. Giorgio Vasari, a painter and biographer who lived in the 16th century, claimed that his father was a painter "of no great merit." However, he was a man of culture who was constantly in touch with the cutting-edge artistic concepts discussed at Urbino's court.
Before his passing in 1494, when Raphael was 11 years old, he introduced the young man to humanistic philosophy at court and gave him his first painting instruction. Duke Federico da Montefeltro's reign in Urbino saw the city flourish culture-wise as he promoted the arts and welcomed to his court artists of outstanding talent like Donato Bramante, Piero della Francesca, and Leon Battista Alberti.
Raphael would draw inspiration from notable artists in Florence and Rome, but Urbino served as the foundation for all of his later education. The young artist's exceptional precociousness, evident even at the start of the 16th century when he was barely 17 years old, was likely further encouraged by the city's vibrant cultural life. (Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d.)
On the advice of Donato Bramante, the first architect to rebuild St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Raphael came to Rome. For the next 12 years, it would serve as his adopted home.
Raphael began work on redecorating Pope Julius II's apartments at the Vatican in 1508. This was the most significant commission he had ever received, solidifying his position as the top painter in the Medici Court.
At this time, Raphael met Agostino Chigi, a banker who would later become one of his most significant patrons outside the church. The fresco of Galatea in Chigi's Villa Farnesina in Rome, created by architect Baldassarre Peruzzi, is the most well-known commission he ever received from Chigi. Agostino Chigi also gave Raphael his first architectural commission in 1513 for the Chigi Chapel in the Santa Maria del Popolo church.
He later collaborated with Bramante on the structure of Rome's St. Eligio degli Orefici church. Following Bramante's death in 1514, it was because of these architectural endeavors that he was appointed Architectural Commissioner of the new St. Peter's Basilica.
Raphael also got engaged to Maria Bibbiena in 1514; she was the niece of Cardinal Bernardo Dovizi Bibbiena. The Cardinal was a Medici Court official with significant authority who had been a lifelong friend and patron. Pope Julius II shielded him while he was pope, and Giovanni de' Medici, who would later become Pope Leo X, had long known him.
Raphael is said to have agreed to the engagement under duress because Margherita Luti, his mistress and model, had already captured his heart. The fact that Maria Bibbiena passed away in 1520 due to an undisclosed illness has largely been left out of Raphael's biography due to public interest in his obsession with Margherita Luti. His great love, Margherita Luti, is captured in Raphael's painting, La Fornarina (1518–19). Vasari notes that Raphael's heart was not in his work because he was obsessed with her when he was asked to decorate the Villa Farnesina for Agostino Chigi. Chigi had to make arrangements for the couple's covert meeting during the commission. It has been suggested that the two may have been secretly married due to Raphael's choice of love and marriage-related themes for the villa. (The Art Story, n.d.)
Raphael passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in Rome, Italy, on April 6, 1520, the day before his 37th birthday, of unknown causes. Around the time of his death, he was working on The Transfiguration, which had been commissioned in 1517 and was his largest canvas painting. Raphael's unfinished Transfiguration was placed on his coffin stand during the Vatican's funeral mass. The body of Raphael was buried in Rome, Italy's Pantheon. After his death, Raphael influenced painting trends in Italy's developing Baroque era. Raphael is still regarded as the foremost representative of Italian High Renaissance classicism. (Biography, 2017)
The Art Story. (n.d.). www.theartstory.org. Retrieved August 8, 2022, from https://www.theartstory.org/artist/raphael/
Encyclopedia Britannica. (n.d.). www.britannica.com. Retrieved August 8, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Raphael-Italian-painter-and-architect
Biography. (2017, April 28). www.biography.com. https://www.biography.com/artist/raphael
Raphael - Wikipedia. (2021, January 10). en.wikipedia.org. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raphael