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Raphael was one of the most important artists of the Italian Renaissance. Raphael painted and designed many brilliant pieces of work and the stanzas inside the Vatican. He was a master at such necessities of modern art such as depth and perspective and the use of light and shadow and was the turning point styles of paintings like the use of Madonnas in paintings. Through his short life, Raphael would make some of the most awe-inspiring, beautiful, and influential works of art during the Italian Renaissance.
Raphael whose full name was Raphael Sanzio, (also known as Raphael Sanzi), was born on April 6th, 1483. He was born in the town of Urbino, Italy, where he would spend his childhood life until he was 11 years old. His father, Giovanni Sanzio, was a painter for the court of Federigo da Montefeltro, and as well as being a painter, he was a bit of a poet. As a young boy, Raphael learned the basics of painting and art from his father. However, he would not live with his father very long; as his mother did several years before, Raphael's father died when Raphael was 11.
After his father died, Raphael went to the town of Perugia to be an apprentice of the painter Pietro Perugino. Perugino was a well-respected artist during the Italian Renaissance. He had painted works in the Vatican, and he also created masterpieces like Christ Delivering the Keys of the Kingdom to St. Peter and The Deposition. For the ten to eleven years that Raphael studied and assisted Perugino, Raphael picked the habit of shade and light, and with Perugino, Raphael learned what he is very famous for depth and perspective. After Perugino's training, Raphael would eventually become a better artist than Perugino himself. However, even with Perugino still teaching him, Raphael still could create masterpieces.
One example is the brilliant The Marriage of the Virgin. Raphael created The Marriage of the Virgin before he was even 21 years old, and he was still Perugino's apprentice. Even then, Raphael had a great understanding of depth and perspective, which he shows well in The Marriage of the Virgin. In that piece, the background is beautifully drawn, and although the background stands out, you can still notice the people in the foreground without being distracted by the background. These people are shown having emotions, and instead of being motionless, some characters are making very noticeable actions and a lot of movement, so the people do not appear lifeless. Instead, they appear sort of realistic.
In 1504, Raphael moved to Florence. There, in Florence, some of the Italian Renaissance's biggest names lived and worked in Florence. In Florence, Raphael studied Michelangelo's use of anatomy and Leonardo da Vinci's use of light and shadow. He met such big names in Florence such as Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Fra Bartolommeo, who was another painter that did such works as The Holy Family. It was in Florence that Raphael made a name for himself as an artist.
One style of painting Raphael favored all throughout his career was that of creating Madonnas over his short life; those are what made Raphael famous in Florence. The way Raphael created his Madonnas, Madonna meaning Mary, the mother of Jesus, portrays Mary as a loving, caring human woman. Many other artists before Raphael portrayed Mary as an angelic-like woman that did not look too much like a human woman, which was due to a lack of emotions and the lack of a halo on many of the Madonnas. Some of the Madonna paintings Raphael created include Madonna and Child Enthroned With Saints, Esterhazy Madonna, La Belle Jardiniere, and the worldly famous Madonna of the Goldfinch.
Madonna of the Goldfinch was made in 1506 and does show a very human Mary. In Italian, Madonna of the Goldfinch is Madonna del Cardellino. In that painting, Mary is shown holding St. John, and St. John is holding a tiny bird for Jesus Christ, who is an infant in that painting. Madonna of the Goldfinch is probably influenced by Leonardo's painting, The Virgin of the Rocks, for the faces and figures are very similar. In Madonna of the Goldfinch and a few other paintings Raphael made, he experimented with Leonardo's immense use of shade, but would always return to the lighter tones that Perugino had taught him.
In 1508, at the age of 24, Raphael was invited to the Vatican by Pope Julius II. Raphael was summoned to the Vatican to paint things like stanzas and was probably recommended to the pope by Donato Bramante, an architect. He was immediately well-liked by the pope and everyone else at the Vatican due to his personality; Raphael was a nice, gentle, and sensitive individual. As Giorgio Vasari once said about Raphael, "Raphael was so gentle and so charitable that even animals loved him, not to speak of men." (Ruskin, p. 132)
In order for Raphael to paint stanzas, Pope Julius II ordered some old frescoes to be washed away from the Vatican walls. Although he made many stanzas, he only painted one stanza: the Stanza Della Segnatura. In the other stanzas that Raphael would make, Raphael would sketch the stanzas and his pupils would paint whatever he sketched. In the Stanza Della Segnatura, there was a stanza for each of the four walls. Each side represented a topic. The four sides were about theology, poetry, philosophy, law. Each topic was represented with a painting. Theology was represented by Disputa, poetry by Parnassus, Jurisprudence represented the law, and the extremely famous The School of Athens represented philosophy. He started working on these stanzas in early 1509 and finished in November 1511.
The School of Athens is arguably Raphael's most famous piece. It is because, with many other important reasons, of his use of depth and perspective and the action and interaction of the people that make this painting the famous masterpiece it is. Unlike the title says, The School of Athens setting is not a school. The School of Athens is actually a gathering of philosophers and scientists.
The center pair is Plato and Aristotle, and each character's side represents a type of philosophy. On Plato's side, philosophers are wondering about the mysteries of the world. On Aristotle's side are philosophers and scientists concerned about nature and mankind. Other famous philosophers and scientists in the painting include Pythagoras, Euclid, and Heraklettes. About this and other Greco-Roman paintings, Celio Calcagnini once said, "It took many ancient heroes and a long age to build Rome, and many enemies and centuries to destroy it. Now Raphael has sought and discovered Rome in Rome; it takes a great man to seek, but discovery comes of God himself." (Shirley, p. 3)
When Pope Julius II died in 1513, Pope Leo X, a member of the Medici family, became pope. Since Pope Leo X was a patron of the arts, he naturally loved and supported Raphael and his art. Pope Leo also had Raphael do unusual tasks. For instance, he had Raphael make a Vatican tapestry cartoon depicting happenings from the Act of the Apostles. Pope Leo also had Raphael decorate Cardinal Bibiena's bathroom with pictures of Venus. Under Pope Leo X, Raphael painted such pieces as Galatea, Pope Leo with 2 Cardinals, and a portrait of Raphael's good friend Count Baldassare Castiglione.
Baldassare Castiglione is possibly the most famous portrait ever done by Raphael. In that portrait, the subject shown is posing in the sort of way that Leonardo's Mona Lisa subject posed. Baldassare Castiglione was done in 1515, and is a very important piece; it influenced such painters as Titian and Rembrandt. Rembrandt even sketched the painting in 1634.
Sadly, everyone's life must end, and Raphael's ended at an early age. Raphael died of a fever on his 37th birthday, which was on a Good Friday. The reason Raphael received the fever was from overwork, and after ten days of high temperatures from this fever, he finally died. He died by his unfinished painting, The Transfiguration, which is located in the Vatican. His best pupil, Giulio Romano, finished the painting.
During Raphael's short life, he made many influential and important pieces of work. For example, one painting of Raphael's, Baldassare Castiglione, could influence very famous painters like Titian and Rembrandt. He was not only a brilliant painter as I have described but also a good person who was well-liked by many people. The Vatican liked Raphael so much that, before he died, there was talk about Raphael being made a cardinal. Raphael Sanzio died on his birthday, April 6th, 1520 at the age of 37. RAfcbvdb RASuch's works of his like The School of Athens and The Marriage of the Virgin are some of the most famous pieces created during the Italian Renaissance. On Raphael's tomb, Cardinal Bembo, a great scholar of the time, wrote: "This is Raphael's tomb, where he lived he made Mother Nature Fear to be vanquished by him and, as he died, to die too."
"This is Raphael's tomb, where he lived he made Mother Nature Fear to be vanquished by him and, as he died, to die too." (Perry, p.334)
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