Raphael was a famous Italian painter of the 16th century during the High Renaissance. He was born on April 6, 1483 in Urbino, Italy to Giovanni Santi and Magia di Battista Ciarla. His father was a competent painter and a cultured man who taught Raphael how to paint as a child. Giovanni died when Raphael was only 11 years old, and his mother had passed away much earlier. As a result the young Raphael came to be all alone, with the responsibility of running his father’s workshop. He was very adept at it, and took over the complete management of his father’s trade. He began to gain a reputation for himself and while still a teenager, he was invited to a neighboring town named Castello to paint for the Church of San Nicola.
At the age of 17, in the year 1500, Raphael was invited to be the apprentice of a famous painter named Pietro Vannunci, also known as Perugino. Raphael accepted, and studied under Perugino for four years. It allowed him to gain both knowledge and practical experience, as well as develop his own distinctive style of painting. In 1504, Raphael parted ways with Perugino and decided to move to Florence. Here he studied the works of the great master artists of the time such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Fra Bartolommeo and Masaccio. By doing this, he was able to add to his already well developed skill set. Over the next three years, he produced a series of paintings called “Madonnas” which were based on and linked to the works of Leonardo da Vinci, including the famous painting “La Belle jardine”. Other famous works were “the Entombment” in Florence, inspired by the work of Michelangelo, “Madonna of the Chair” and “Sistine Madonna”.
In 1508, Raphael moved to Rome to paint at the Vatican, under the instructions and patronage of Pope Julius II. Over the next three years, he worked incessantly to produce some of his most famous paintings, known as “frescos”, that is, murals painted on the ceiling of the room. One of the most famous ones is the “Stanza della Segnatura” series which includes paintings such as “The Triumph of Religion” and “The School of Athens”. Others include “The Expulsion of Heliodorus”, “The Miracle of Bolsena”, “The Repulse of Attila from Rome” and “The Liberation of Saint Peter”.
Raphael was also a well-known architect, something he began to focus on later in his life. He was invited to be the chief architect at the Vatican by the pope, after the death of the previous architect Donato Bramante in 1514. He designed a number of chapels such as those in Sant’Eligio degli Orefici as well as Santa Maria del Popolo Chapel in Rome. Other projects that he was commissioned for by the church were portraits of popes Julius II and Leo X. Raphael died unexpectedly on his 37th birthday but the cause of death was unknown. At that time, he had been working on his largest painting to date, called “The Transfiguration”, an unfinished version of which was also displayed at his funeral. His funeral service was held at the Vatican and he was buried in Rome. He was already a popular painter during his lifetime, and thousands of people attended his funeral. Along with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he is considered the third member of the trinity of great masters during the Italian Renaissance.