R = Raphael

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 Click on the paintings – they are magnificent!

Raphael Self Portrait

Raphael Self Portrait

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, or Raphael (1483 –1520 was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance.  With Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vince, he forms the traditional trinity of the greatest artists of that period.  His artistic contribution is the clarity of his painting and the ease of composition, with a visual ideal of humanity.  Vasari, in his Lives of the Painters, called him the ‘Prince of Painters.”

Urbino, at the time of Raphael’s birth, was a cultural center for the Arts. Raphael’s father, Giovanni Santi, was a painter for the Duke of Urbino and taught the young Raphael basic painting techniques.

Self Portrait (with an unknown friend, foreground)

Self Portrait (with an unknown friend, foreground)

Because of this, he was able to experience the intellectual life of the court and the principles of humanistic philosophy. Giovanni died suddenly when Raphael was eleven, and his son took over the task of managing his father’s workshop. He became Urbino’s leading painter at age twelve and quickly surpassed his father.

The Three Graces

The Three Graces

In 1500, the master painter Perugino invited Raphael to become his apprentice in Perugia, where where he was working on frescoes at the Collegio del Cambia. During the next four year, Raphael gained knowledge and hands-on experience, as well as developing his own unique style.  The Three Graces (circa 1503) and The Knight’s Dream (1504) date from this time.

Knight's Dream (Vision of a Knight)

Knight’s Dream (Vision of a Knight)

By the time he was 21, Raphael had moved to Florence, where he was exposed to, and influenced by, the work of Michelangelo and Da Vinci.  Studying the details of their work, Raphael began to develop an even more intricate and expressive personal style.  From 1504 through 1507, Raphael painted a series of Madonnas, evocative of da Vince, culminating in 1507 with La Belle Jardine. That same year, he created his most ambitious work in Florence, the Entombment, evocative of the ideas of Michaelangelo.

 

The Entombment

The Entombment

The Bell Jardine

The Bell Jardine

Raphael moved to Rome in 1508, and his last twelve years were both hectic and triumphant, working for two Popes and their associates.  He became an enormously productive painter, running a large workshop.

 

 

School of Athens, Fresco in the Raphael Rooms of the Vatican

School of Athens, Fresco in the Raphael Rooms of the Vatican

The four Raphael Rooms in the papal apartments of the Vatican Palace are famous for their grand fresco sequence, painted by Raphael and his workshop. Note the excellent use of perspective,

School of Athens, Fresco for the Raphael Rooms of the Vatican

School of Athens, Fresco for the Raphael Rooms of the Vatican

taught to Raphael by his father, who studied the work of Mantagna.  Raphael painted an additional fresco cycle for the Vatican, but those in the Raphael Rooms are considered the best.

Madonna of the Chair

Madonna of the Chair

He also produced another successful series of  Madonna paintings,  the famed Madonna of the Chair and one of my favorites, the Madonna with the Goldfinch.

Madonna with the Goldfinch

Madonna with the Goldfinch

By the time Raphael was working on his largest painting on canvas, The Transfiguration, he had begun to work on architecture.  The pope hired Raphael as his chief architect in 1515. With this commission, he designed Rome’s Santa Maria del Popolo Chapel, various other chapels within Saint Peter’s new basilica and also palaces, incorporating ornamental details that would define the architecture of the  late Renaissance and early Baroque periods.

Santa Maria del Popolo

Santa Maria del Popolo

 

Raphael died suddenly on his 37th birthday.  His funeral Mass was held at the Vatican and his body interred at the Pantheon.

Despite his early death, Raphael left a large body of work . Michelangelo’s influence overshadowed his until the 18th and 19th centuries, when Raphael’s more serene and harmonious qualities again led him to be regarded as the leading artistic figure of Italian   High Renaissance classicism.

 

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13 thoughts on “R = Raphael

  1. Ah, the wonderful Raphael. I have heard his name many times, have seen some of his art in various mentions. Definitely a leading artistic figure. All one has to do is take a look at his art to see why, all of which I enjoy, but really like the self portraits the most. They show him in a bit of a vulnerable light. That’s probably how he felt.

  2. nilabose

    Hi,
    Visiting from the A-Z. A very well known name of course, but I wasn’t aware of the facts you have highlighted here. Thanks for sharing, enjoyed the write up.
    Best wishes,
    Nilanjana.

  3. Great idea for the April Challenge! I foud out too late, so I’m looking forward to taking part next year! I’ve been handed the baton by Elizabeth, too. Great to meet fellow authors virtually! Will “S” be Seurat? Can I beg for Turner? He’s one of my favourites!

    • Thanks for looking for me! No Turner or Seurat since I am just doing Renaissance artists, but maybe one year I will do Impressionists. I chose this period because I am very familiar with it.
      Ah, yes, gotta pass that baton!

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