Raphael Biography

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Raphael biography

RaffaelRaphael Santi (Raffaello Sanzio) (1483–1520)

Italian Renaissance painter, born at Urbino.

Son of a court painter, his mother died in 1491 and his father in 1494.

Influenced by the works of Uccello, Mantegna, Piero and Signorelli, he was apprenticed to Perugino. The Crucifixion (1503) in the National Gallery, London, is an early masterpiece. He left Urbino and lived in Florence 1504–08, when Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were working there.

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His Florentine paintings include The Lady with the Unicorn (1506) and The Deposition of Christ (1507), both in the Borghese Gallery, Rome. He moved to Rome in 1508.

The rest of his short life was spent in Rome, where his agreeable nature as well as his astounding gifts ensured immediate success.

His 26 surviving portraits include Pope Julius II (1511), Pope Leo X (1519), Baldassare Castiglione (1515), several cardinals and himself. Julius II commissioned him to paint frescoes in four rooms (Le Stanze) in the papal apartments at the Vatican; they include the The School of Athens and The Dispute over the Holy Sacrament.

After Bramante’s death he was appointed architect in charge of building St Peter’s but none of his proposals survive. He drew the cartoons for the tapestries in the Sistine Chapel (at the same time painting the mythological Galatea cycle for the Palazzo Farnese). He also produced many large and small altarpieces as well as portraits.

Raphael’s output was large for so brief a life though in his last years he left completion of his intentions more and more to his assistants (Giulio Romano being the most gifted).

He died of a sudden fever, according to Vasari after sexual excess, and was buried in the Pantheon in Rome. Raphael’s nature was receptive rather than dynamic and he absorbed ideas from Leonardo, Michelangelo and ancient sculptures without destroying the unity of his own work. Few, if any, artists have excelled him in the facility with which he transferred his intuitive ideas into paintings.