Biography of Renaissance Painter Raphael Part 1

About the famous Renaissance painter Raphael, history and biography of the Italian artist.


RAPHAEL (1483-1520)

During the 37 years allotted him, from Good Friday, 1483, to Good Friday, 1520, Raphael became known as the prince of Renaissance painters. Born in Urbino as Raffaello Santi, he began his training early. His first teacher was his father, a competent painter but one of no great merit, who was connected with the court of Federigo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino. Raphael was already considered a master by the age of 17, when he was apprenticed to II Perugino, an illustrious Umbrian painter.

In 1503 Raphael received a commission to paint the first in a long series of Madonnas which were to be among the crowning achievements of his career. The following year, lured by the spreading fame of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, Raphael moved to Florence. He studied under Leonardo for a brief time, and the immediate influence of the Mona Lisa can be seen in Raphael's first portrait in Florence of Maddalena Doni, the wife of his patron, Angelo Doni. Although Raphael was influenced deeply by Leonardo and Michelangelo, he was not merely an imitator. He culled the most lasting elements fom the artistic tradition of the 100 years prior to his time and adapted them in his own unique style.

Invited to Rome in 1508 by Pope Julius II, Raphael was commissioned to fresco the walls of a suite of rooms in the Vatican (referred to as the Stanze). The walls were already covered by masterpieces of earlier painters, but they were plastered over to enable Raphael to depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments, which were to be the basis for nearly all future scriptural art. The only panels which Raphael would not allow to be effaced were those painted by his former teacher, Perugino.

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