Raphael sanzio


Raphael sanzio, better known as Raffaello or Raffaello Santi, is an emblematic Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance era . Furthermore, this important artist is the son of the also painter Giovanni Santi, who was a painter and official poet of the court of Frederick III of Montefeltro, one of the most famous princes and protector of the Renaissance arts in Italy.


Personal information

  • When was born:  04/06/1483
  • When he died: 04/06/1520
  • Nationality:  Italian

Who was Raphael sanzio?

Raffaello or Rafael Sanzio, was an Italian reference of the Renaissance , considered one of the greatest and most influential painters. He is known as “the prince of painters . ” He received his first training in the arts from his father, the painter Giovanni Santi; to later study Miguel Angel and Da Vinci, from whom he acquired his formal virtuosity, as well as the ability to synthesize religious scenes; which seek the balanced representation of a subtle beauty based on its compositional character.


Biography of Raphael sanzio

Rafael Sanzio was born on April 6, 1483, in Urbino, Italy ; reason why it can be known as: “Rafael de Urbino” . He was a descendant of the painter and poet Juan Sanzio . From that affinity, his interest in the arts was born and his father became his first teacher.


He received influences from both Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo after his transfer to Florence in 1504. From this pair of virtuosos, the handling of his pictorial technique evolved from some compositions and portraits. But it is not until 1508, that he manages to settle in Rome, where his genius emerges and his art takes its most significant expression.

Upon his arrival in the capital of the Christian world, he began to be hired by popes and bishops to decorate the halls and chapels of the Vatican. It produces innumerable pictures, portraits, mural frescoes, sculptures and architectural works; thus demonstrating its masterful execution. An example of his work is “The School of Athens” , one of the most representative of his virtuosity and whose rooms are located in the Vatican.

Twelve years later, on the same day as his birthday, April 6, 1520, at the age of 37, he died in the city of Rome where he resided. His death causes an irreparable loss for art, since it leaves one of the most significant paintings unfinished, such as: ” The Transfiguration . 

Characteristics of the work of Raphael sanzio

Rafael Sanzio’s work faithfully reflects the character of the time , as he is influenced by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, forerunners of the Renaissance. Unfortunately, he died young and even so, he managed to be a great example of this artistic boom, specifically of the High Renaissance, between the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century.

Among the plastic elements that can be defined in his pieces, the compositional clarity stands out since the triangular-pyramidal scheme can be seen with the naked eye when representing his scenes. He cares about the space within the painting, which leads him to create an environment that encompasses all the figures that meet each other, taking the theme of perspective to another level in each of his scenes, evoking a subtlety in the stroke quality.

The painter’s approach to religious themes is simple to note, narrative or sequential in nature, representing scenes from the evangelical texts, contemplating the figure of Christ, apostles, disciples and magical religious characters. It is a direct and strong approach to the worldview of the time .

Works by Raphael sanzio

The due analysis of his works can be divided into four periods, where his stay in Florence stands out. His first years in Perudia (1494-1500); the Umbrian stage (1500-1504), the Florentine stage (1504-1508) and his twelve-year period in Rome.

During his time in Perufia , together with Perugino, he acquired light tones, elegant postures, and idyllic landscapes. Then, in Umbria he deepened his studies of perspective, a constant concern in the artistic media of the time. The pieces that stand out are : The Adoration of the Magi , Louvre Museum, the Adoration of the Shepherds , National Gallery in London and The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian (1498).

In Sanzio’s career, the Florentine period (1504) stands out, where he is influenced by Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Fray Bartolomeo , thus learning their methods of rendering lights, shadows; anatomical studies and dramatic composition of the characters. From this stylistic change, its numerous madonnas and

Borgo Fire by Rafael Sanzio

virgins; the triangular or pyramidal compositional scheme, achieving a character of serenity in his pieces. Examples of this are : the Madonna del Granduca , in the Pitti Palace, in Florence; and The Beautiful Gardener , at the Louvre Museum. On the other hand, the most original composition in this period is The Burial of Christ from 1507 which is located in the Borghese Gallery in Rome and is part of an altarpiece. This work shows the strong influence of Michelangelo on the disposition and attitudes of bodies and on their anatomical treatment.

Due to his fame as a Renaissance representative, he traveled to Rome in 1508, invited by Pope Julius II, for the fresco decoration of four rooms that later passed into the history of universal art, the Vatican rooms . Highlights include the First Stanza of the Signature: Dispute of the sacrament, School of Athenae, the Parnassus, the Second Stanza of Heliodorus: Mass of Bolsena, the Third Stanza of Fire of Borgo and Dream of Constantine. Later he died in 1520, leaving The Transfiguration unfinished.

School of Athens

The creation of this representative painting begins with the making of sketches between 1509 and 1510, to later be completed from 1510 to 1512. It was a commission from Pope Julius II with a decorative character from the Stanza della Segnatura . The fresco evokes the philosophy of the time as it depicts an astonishing daily scene with the great thinkers, in this case Aristotle and Plato , in the middle of the School of Athens and meeting with their group of philosophers around significant sculptures of Athena and Apollo.

From the visual point of view and as a worthy speaker of the Renaissance period, the handling of the composition stands out , since it envelops or frames the characters and architectural elements in a certain way, such as the columns and arches that lead to a gallery open where the philosophers converge in the background, emphasizing Aristotle and Plato in the center and thus highlighting the perspective and depth that the work acquires.

It constitutes a globalized version of what was known as the 7 arts , grammar, arithmetic, music , geometry, astronomy , rhetoric and dialectics .

A curious fact about this work is that there is a reproduction of it in the Old Cabell Hall auditorium at the University of Virginia and another in the cathedral of Königsberg, Kaliningrad.

The Transfiguration

During the year 1517, Rafael Sanzio commissioned a piece by Cardinal Julio de Medici (later Pope Clement VII), destined for the Cathedral of Narbonne. The scene represented narrates two episodes from the Gospels: the act of transfiguration on Mount Tabor, and the vain attempt of the apostles to relieve a possessed child ; that in the end, he is healed by Christ, who comes down from the mountain. Sanzio manages to overcome the requirement that the union of these two scenes requires, where it is not a miracle, but the inability to perform one.

In 1520, with the death of Rafael Sanzio, the painting was incomplete . Currently, the piece is kept in the Vatican Museum.

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