Raphael: short biography and paintings in 10 points

Raphael, The school of Athens (1509-1511 circa), Musei Vaticani, Vatican City

In two minutes, I will tell you the story of this great Italian Renaissance artist, famous for his wonderful paintings of the Madonna.

Raphael’s life was like that of a rock star. From an early age, his extraordinary talent made him one of the most promising artists of the Renaissance. This made his paintings sought after by Italian nobles. In addition to being rich and famous, Raphael was also extremely handsome and many women were attracted to him. Unfortunately, just like many famous rock stars, he died too young, only 37 years old at his death.

For all these reasons, I will tell you the story of Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (Raphael). I’ll do it in two minutes, listing the main points of his life and of his career as an artist.

LIFE AND WORKS OF RAPHAEL: SUMMARY IN TWO MINUTES (OF ART)

Raphael, Self-portrait, 1504–1506, Uffizi, Florence
Raphael, Self-portrait, 1504–1506, Uffizi, Florence

Who was Raphael?

1. Raphael (born in Urbino in 1483 – died in Rome in1520) is considered, together with Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo, as one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance.

He was the son of an artist.  His father, Giovanni Santi (from which his family name “Sanzio” derives) was a well-known artist and owner of an important workshop in Urbino, a city in the Marche region in central Italy which in the 16th century was an important artistic center.

TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE RENAISSANCE IN 2 MINUTES READ THIS ARTICLE

The city of Urbino
The city of Urbino (VlRan – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Workshop by Pietro Vannucci “Il Perugino”

2. Rapahel’s childhood was marred by two sad events. When he was eight his mother died, and when he was eleven his father also died. He left the city of Urbino and moved to Perugia, where he was cared for by the famous artist Pietro Vannucci, “Il Perugino”, who took him on as an apprentice.

The young artist showed so much early talent that, when he was only eighteen, he received commissions to produce works for the most important Umbrian lords. In those years he became friends with Pinturicchio, who was already an established artist at the time.

Raphael in Florence

3. At twenty-one, Raphael decided to move to Florence, fascinated by what was being said about the works of two well-known artists who lived in that city: Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo.

Raphael, The Marriage of the Virgin (Lo Sposalizio della Vergine), 1504, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
Raphael, The Marriage of the Virgin (Lo Sposalizio della Vergine), 1504, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

The paintings: Raphael’s Madonnas

4. During this period Raphael painted the famous series of paintings of the Madonna with the Child, one of the subjects to which the artist was particularly attracted. According to some, Raphael preferred to paint this subject to compensate for the tragic disappearance of his mother when he was still a child.

The most famous paintings of the Madonna by Raphael include: the Madonna of the Meadow (1506), the Esterhazy Madonna (1508) and the Madonna of the Goldfinch (1506).

The famous frescos in Vatican City

5. At the age of twenty-five Raphael was called to Rome by Pope Julius II who asked him to paint frescoes in rooms of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The artist was inspired by the four colleges of medieval universities: theology, philosophy, poetry and jurisprudence to give life to one of the most famous paintings of the Renaissance: The School of Athens (1509-1511).

6. It seems that Raphael painted some of the most famous scholars in the world with the faces of the greatest artists of his time: Heraclitus has the face of Michelangelo; Plato has the face of Leonardo da Vinci and Euclid has the face of Bramante, who was a famous architect.

Raphael, The school of Athens (1509-1511 circa), Musei Vaticani, Città del Vaticano
Raphael, The school of Athens (1509-1511 circa), Musei Vaticani, Vatican City

The paintings: “The Marriage of the Virgin”

7. Among the masterpieces of Raphael, we should mention the painting The Marriage of the Virgin (1504), created for the chapel of San Giuseppe in the church of San Francesco in Città di Castello. The work is located today in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan.

Other important works are The Deposition (1507); the Resurrection of Christ (1501) conserved at the Museu de Arte in San Paolo; the Three Graces (1504) and the Transfiguration (1516-1520), his last work which Raphael didn’t manage to finish but which was completed by Giulio Romano.

Raphael, Transfiguration, 1516–20, Pinacoteca Vaticana, Vatican City
Raphael, Transfiguration, 1516–20, Pinacoteca Vaticana, Vatican City

Raphael’s workshop

8. In addition to being a great artist, Raphael was also a very good entrepreneur. His shop in Florence was one of the best organized. While the 16th century workshops usually included a master and many young apprentices, Raphael’s workshop was made up of several masters, each of whom was responsible for a group of apprentices. In this way, the shop could work on several projects simultaneously.

9. Raphael was also an important architect.  From 1514, he worked on the project of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican (a construction site to which Michelangelo also dedicated himself from 1546).

Raphael, Resurrection of Christ, 1499–1502, São Paulo Museum of Art, Brazil

The death of Raphael

10. Raphael died on night of Good Friday in1520, at only 37 years of age. Contemporaries claimed that at the time of his death a clap of thunder shook the Vatican palaces and the sky filled with dark clouds, as if the world had lost a holy man.

Raphael died of a severe fever which, according to art historian Giorgio Vasari, was caused by exhaustion from Raphael’s romantic activities.  His body was buried in the Pantheon in Rome.

Raphael, The Deposition (Pala Baglione), 1507, Galleria Borghese, Rome
Raphael, The Deposition (Pala Baglione), 1507, Galleria Borghese, Rome

From: www.dueminutidiarte.com

Published by Marco Lovisco

Journalist, communication specialist and writer.

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