Art History and Artists
Biography >> Art History
- Occupation: Painter and architect
- Born: April 6, 1483 in Urbino, Italy
- Died: April 6, 1520 in Rome, Italy
- Famous works: The School of Athens, The Sistine Madonna, The Transfiguration
- Style/Period: Renaissance
Where did Raphael grow up?
Raphael was born in the Renaissance Italian city-state of Urbino in central Italy. Urbino was considered one of the cultural centers of Italy and a place where artists flourished. His father, Giovanni, was a painter and poet for the local Duke. As a young boy, Raphael learned the basics of painting from his father.
When Raphael was just eleven years old his father died. Over the next several years, Raphael honed his skill as an artist. Working out of his father's workshop, he gained a reputation as one of the most skilled artists in Urbino.
Training to be an Artist
When Raphael turned seventeen he moved to the city of Perugia, where he worked with a famous artist named Pietro Perugino for four years. He continued to improve his painting, learning from Perugino, but also developing his own style. In 1504, Raphael moved to Florence. He was now considered a master painter and took on commissions from various patrons including the church.
Raphael studied the works of the great masters such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. He absorbed a lot of their style and techniques, but maintained his own unique style. Raphael was considered a friendly and social artist. People liked him and enjoyed his company.
Painting for the Pope
By 1508 Raphael's fame had spread to Rome. He was invited to decorate some of the rooms (called "stanze") in the Vatican by Pope Julius II. It was here that Raphael painted his greatest work The School of Athens. By the time he had completed the rooms, he was considered one of the great artists of Italy.
Raphael's paintings were known for their range, variety, grace, strength, and dignity. One art critic said that his work was "more lifelike than life itself." His artwork is often cited as the perfect example of classical art and the High Renaissance. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest painters of all time.
The School of Athens
The School of Athens is a fresco painted by Raphael between 1510 and 1511. It was painted on the wall of the library in the palace at the Vatican. The painting shows many of the philosophers of Ancient Greece including Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Pythagoras, and Euclid.
The Sistine Madonna
The Sistine Madonna is an oil painting by Raphael from 1513. Raphael was famous for his many paintings of the Madonna which he depicted in different moods and sizes. Today, the most famous part of the painting is the two angels, or cherubim, at the bottom. These angels have been featured on modern day stamps, t-shirts, postcards, and more.
Portrait of Pope Julius II
Rafael also painted many portraits. This painting of Pope Julius II was very unique at the time as it showed the pope from the side and in a pondering mood. It became the model for future portraits of the pope.
Raphael began painting The Transfiguration in 1517. It was Raphael's largest painting on canvas and one of the last paintings he finished before his death.
Raphael was also an accomplished architect. He became the pope's chief architect in 1514. He did some work on the design of St. Peter's Basilica and worked on other religious buildings such as the Chigi Chapel in Rome.
Interesting Facts about Raphael
- His full name was Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino.
- He was often seen as a rival to Michelangelo who didn't like him and felt that Raphael plagiarized his work.
- He was very close with both Pope Julius II and Pope Leo X.
- Raphael had a large workshop in Rome with at least fifty students and assistants. Even other master painters came to Rome to work with him.
- He always drew many sketches and drawings when planning his major works.
Biography >> Art History