Raphael: Heavenly Master
Raphello Sanzio was born in April 6, 1483 in Urbino Italy. His father gave him his first lessons in painting. His father was a court painter and poet. Young Raphael probably had more access into literary and artistic circles because of his father’s connections. He was unfortunealty orphaned at age 11. His mother died in 1491 and his father died in 1494. He became the ward of his uncle, Bartolemo. He studied under many masters and began a nomadic lifestyle, travelling around Italy and painting, in 1501 when his teachers declared him a master. At that time training was paramount and only became a master when enough training had taken place.
In 1504, Raphael lived in Florence. His unique clear clean style improved by studying composition and expression under Masaccio. He also studied color and with Fra Bartolomeo. He also lived in Florence until 1508, and then he went to Rome on the invitation of Pope Julius II. The famous frescoes in the Vatican and numerous other works were started on that trip to Rome where he ended up living for the rest of his life.
Raphael was employed to complete the fresco decoration of a number of rooms in the Vatican. The most well known of these works is : The School of Athens, a majestic piece which deifies the philosophers of times past. The Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle are central figures, joined by Socrates, Euclid, Pythagoras and Epicurus. The clean characteristic serenity and harmony of his style, this piece is proof Raphael's maturity and technical skill.
Raphael was given more rooms to paint, displacing other artists, such as former teachers Perugino and Signorelli. He completed a sequence of three rooms, each with paintings on each wall and the ceilings as well. The mundane and difficult work of painting from his detailed drawings he commanded to a workshop team he had acquired because he was so popular and everyone wanted to learn from him. The pope added another room to the commission. The death of Julius in 1513 did not interrupt the work at all, as he was succeeded by the Medici Pope Leo X, with whom Raphael formed an even closer relationship, and who continued to commission him. His fellow artists hated his success and his close relationship with the Pope. Even Michelangelo hated him and accused him of copying him.
After the death of architect Donato Bramante in 1514, Raphael was appointed architect of St. Peter's. He was involved with the excavations and surveys of ruins in Rome. He left the remaining frescos in the Papal apartments more and more to his assistants, including his most important and talented pupil Giulio Romano. He drew the designs for the Burning of the Borgo and for the decoration of the loggias in the Vatican, and although he no doubt supervised their execution, they were probably painted by Raphael’s pupils.
Raphael lived in the Borgo, in grand style in a palace designed by Bramante. He never married, but in 1514 became engaged to Maria Bibbiena, Cardinal Medici Bibbiena's niece. They never married. He is said to have had many affairs, but the permanent woman in his life in Rome was Margherita Luti, the daughter of a baker. Raphael's premature death on his birthday, April 6, 1520 was a shock to the artistic community. He was buried in the Pantheon and his funeral was attended by thousands.
By Melissa Montgomery