Raffaello Sanzio (1483-1520) harmoniously composed religious and mythological scenes were enormously influential; his portraits enhance his sitter's character and express dignity. Many of his designs were engraved. Much of his later work was the product of his studio.
Raphael was born in Urbino, the son of Giovanni Santi (died in 1494), a court painter. In 1499 he went to Perugia, where he worked with Pemgino, whose graceful style is reflected in Raphael's Marriage of the Virgin (Brera, Milan). This work also shows his early concern for harmonious disposition of figures in the pictorial space.
In Florence 1504-1508 he studied the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Masaccio, and Fra Bartolommeo. His paintings of this period include the Ansidei Madonn
a (National Gallery, London).
Next, Pope Julius II commissioned him to decorate the papal apartments (the Stanze) in the Vatican. In Raphael's first fresco series there, The School of Athens in 1509 is a complex but classically composed grouping of Greek philosophers and mathematicians, centred on the figures of Plato and Aristotle. A second series of frescoes, 1511-1514, includes the dramatic and richly coloured Mass of Bolsena.
Raphael was increasingly flooded with commissions. Within the next few years he produced delightful mythological frescoes in the Villa Farnesina in Rome (1511-1512), cartoons for tapestries for the Sistine Chapel, Vatican (Victoria and Albert Museum, London), and the Sistine Madonna about 1512 (Gemaldegalerie, Dresden, East Germany). One of his pupils was Giulio Romano.
Why is Raphael famous?
Raphael was an Italian painter, one of the greatest of the High Renaissance, active in Perugia, Florence, and Rome (from 1508), where he painted frescoes in the Vatican and for secular patrons.