An Italian Renaissance painter, considered one of the greatest and most popular artists of all time. Raphael was born Raffaello Santi or Raffaello Sanzio in Urbino on April 6, 1483, and received his early training in art from his father, the painter Giovanni Santi.
According to many art historians, he also studied with Timoteo Viti at Urbino, executing under his influence a number of works of miniaturelike delicacy and poetic atmosphere, including Apollo and Marsyas (Louvre, Paris) and The Knight's Dream (1501?, National Gallery, London). In 1499 he went to Perugia, in Umbria, and became a student and assistant of the painter Perugino. Raphael imitated his master closely; their paintings of this period are executed in styles so similar that art historians have found it difficult to determine which were painted by Raphael. Among Raphael's independent works executed at Perugia are two large-scale paintings, the celebrated Sposalizio, or Marriage of the Virgin (1504, Brera Gallery, Milan), and The Crucified Christ with the Virgin Mary, Saints and Angels (1503?, National Gallery, London).
Raphael's most important commissions during his stay in Florence came from Umbria. His most original composition of this period is the Entombment of Christ (1507, Borghese Gallery, Rome), an altarpiece that nevertheless shows the strong influence of Michelangelo in the postures and anatomical development of the figures.
After the death of Pope Julius II in 1513, and the accession of Leo X, Raphael's influence and responsibilities increased. He was made chief architect of Saint Peter's Basilica in 1514, and a year later was appointed director of all the excavations of antiquities in and near Rome. Because of his many activities, only part of the third room of the Vatican Palace, the Stanza del Incendio (1514-1517), was painted by him, and he merely provided the designs for the fourth chamber, the Sala Constantina. During this period he also designed ten tapestries illustrating the acts of Christ's apostles for the Sistine Chapel; the cartoons, or drawings, for these are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Raphael also devised the architecture and decorations of the Chigi Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo and the decorations of the Villa Farnesina, which include the Triumph of Galatea (1513?).
In addition to these major undertakings, he executed a number of easel paintings, including a portrait of Julius II (1511-1512), a series of Madonnas, and the world-famous Sistine Madonna (1514?, Gemäldegalerie, Dresden). Other religious paintings during this period include the Transfiguration (1517-1520, Vatican), completed posthumously by the most notable of Raphael's many followers, Giulio Romano. Raphael died in Rome on his 37th birthday, April 6, 1520.
"Raphael (painter)," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2001
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