Who was Raffaello Sanzio?

In 1508, Raphael became Perugino's apprentice. Living in Florence from 1504 to 1507, he began painting a series of Perugino-inspired Madonnas. In Rome from 1509 to 1511, he painted the Stanza della Segnatura ("Room of the Signatura") frescoes located in the Palace of the Vatican. He later painted another fresco cycle for the Vatican, in the Stanza d'Eliodoro ("Room of Heliodorus"). In 1514, Pope Julius II hired Raphael as his chief architect. Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino was born in Urbino, Italy on April 6, 1483. Around the same time, Raphael completed his last work in his series of the "Madonnas," an oil painting called the Sistine Madonna. Raphael died in Rome on April 6, 1520.

Raffaello Sanzio's Early Life

Raffaello Sanzio, who would be known to history as Raphael, was born in Urbino on April 6, 1483. His father was a painter, but did not pursue the art professionally due to his lack of skill. As a boy, Raphael showed an interest in art early on. He was particularly good at drawing and would draw the people around him in his free time. When he was 13 years old, he went to Perugia to study with the painter Perugino. While there, he worked mostly as an assistant rather than having pieces of his own put up for display. Raphael's father died when he returned home from Perugia. This caused him to move back to Florence with his mother and brother. He went back to work as an assistant with Perugino for several years after this move. While working as an assistant, Raphael created several pieces that were well-received and put on display in Florence, including several frescoes for the walls of a private audience chamber and a portrait of a Florentine banker's wife. These works gained him much praise and recognition even though he had not done them alone.

Raphael's Training and the Early Years

Raphael is now known as the most famous painter in the history of Western art. His work has been much imitated and much admired, and his name has become synonymous with "painter." Raphael was born in 1483, the son of a painter named Giovanni Santi. Sometime around 1494 Raphael moved with his father to Florence, where he studied the works of Piero della Francesca and other painters of the Italian Renaissance. Around 1504 Raphael started out on his own, traveling to Rome, where he hoped to make his fortune as a painter. The next four years are poorly documented; it is not even clear how or where Raphael lived during that time. By 1508 he was back in Florence, where he stayed for three years. During that period he made small paintings for private collections and worked on frescoes commissioned by patrons. Raphael is one of those artists whose greatness can make his paintings seem a little boring. Even those who don't know the technical terms have the sense that he had it all from the beginning, and that once you've seen a Raphael you've seen them all. Perhaps not. I believe that Raphael developed his style more slowly than most people imagine, and that some of his early works are as interesting as his later ones. And I also believe that we have a tendency to over-value training and technical mastery, and to undervalue individual vision and daring.

A look at the life and works of Raffaello Sanzio

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino was born in 1483 in the Republic of Florence. He died in 1520, in Rome. He was an Italian painter, architect, poet, and engineer, best known for his frescoes at the Vatican. He is also known for "The School of Athens," "The Parnassus," and other frescoes in the Apostolic Palace. He was the most important artist of the High Renaissance. His work marks a turning point in the development of Western art away from the medieval conception of Christian art. His patrons included Popes Julius II and Leo X. His work is characterized by its sense of movement and energy, color and warmth, disegno (design) and unifying geometry, both in form and color.

The Progress of his Profession

Raphael was the most famous painter in Italy, but he was also an architect and a sculptor. He had many patrons, including popes and kings. For each of them, he had to create something different. Raphael painted portraits for some of his patrons; others got landscapes; still others got religious paintings. Different paintings for different people. It is fashionable today to say that Raphael must have been some sort of genius. If he could paint beautiful portraits like that, and landscapes like that, and religious subjects like that, then surely he must have been a prodigy? The fact is that he was not a prodigy. He learned all those skills from his father, who was a painter himself. His earliest surviving painting is from when he was 19 years old, but there are many from before that age. He did take a very long time to get famous. He didn't have a great reputation when he was in his twenties or thirties, and only became world-famous in his forties. But it wasn't because he didn't know what he was doing it's just that there wasn't much demand for the things that only Raphael could do.

Raphael's Design Approach

Raffaello Sanzio's father taught him to paint but died when Raphael was only 8 years old. He continued his studies with other painters in the town, including Perugino who had studied in Florence under the great Renaissance artist, Fra Angelico. Raphael's works are often considered to be more decorative, with less attention paid to perspective and anatomy.  This is partly due to the fact that Raphael was more interested in painting for the Pope or other wealthy patrons, and these paintings were more likely to be placed on ceilings or walls where perfect perspective and anatomical precision may not have been as important. Raphael also took inspiration from classical antiquity and applied this in his own way. He was particularly inspired by Roman sculpture. This influence can be seen in his painting of La Fornarina which is based on an ancient Greek statue of a woman bathing called Aphrodite of Cnidus.  His greatest paintings are found within the Vatican Palace where he had access to the Sistine Chapel where he painted frescoes including The School of Athens and The Disputa. Raphael is famous for being one of the most beautiful painters in history, but what is less known is that he was an extremely methodical person. He left behind a diary with around 50,000 annotations detailing his working process and methods. The book was published in 1648 by the painter Marcantonio Raimondi, with the title "Raphael's Thoughts". Nowadays, many artists are involved in the entire creative process, from concept to release. But back then, they didn't have contacts to publishers or marketing teams. To be able to sell their artworks, they had to reach out themselves to potential buyers. Raphael used his diary as a tool to keep track of any new idea that could help him find potential clients. He would write down all the ideas he had about marketing, self-promotion and effective ways of communicating with wealthy patrons.

What made Raffaello Sanzio different?

In an age of exploration, Raffaello Sanzio was a navigator who charted new territory as surely as Magellan. In an age of religious conflict, he was a man of peace. His paintings reflect the richness not only of his home city but of a whole era of human experience. In short, he belongs on one of those lists that people make to show the greats in any field. The 100 Most Influential People of All Time. The 40 Who Made History. The 30 Artists Who Changed the World. He is among the greatest artists who ever lived, but what set him apart? What made him different from Titian or Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci? What sets one person apart from another is hard to say, but there are always differences between them in their personality, their opportunities, and the way they spend their time. They may even differ in their talents. And it can be instructive to look at these things individually and ask what they were for Raffaello Sanzio.

Death of Raffaello Sanzio

On April 6, 1520, Raffaello Sanzio died suddenly and unexpectedly of mysterious causes in Rome, Italy. He had been working on his largest painting on canvas, The Transfiguration (commissioned in 1517), at the time of his death. When his funeral mass was held at the Pantheon in Rome, Raffaello’s unfinished Transfiguration was placed on his coffin stand. Raffaello’s body was interred at the Pantheon in Rome, Italy.
Following Raphael’s death, styles in Italy’s advancing Baroque period moved toward Mannerism. Celebrated for the balanced and harmonious compositions of his Madonnas, portraits, frescoes, and architecture, Raphael remains widely regarded as the leading artistic figure of Italian High Renaissance classicism.

Oil painting reproduction of Raffaello Sanzio