Monday, March 21, 2011

40 Days of Artists: Raphael

He was Michelangelo's most worthy rival in the early 1500s. What Michelangelo was to sculpture, Raphael was to painting. He was renown for his paintings of the Madonna and Christ child, and his large scale compositions for the Vatican.
Raphael was born Raffaello Sanzi in 1483 in Urbino. By age 11, he was orphaned, and is believed to have moved to Perugia around that time, where he eventually be came an apprentice under the master Perugino. Between 1501 and 1503 he had received some major commissions, particularly that of the Coronation of the Virgin for the Oddi Chapel. Another of Raphael's early works inspired by Perugino's careful detail of perspective was the Marriage of the Virgin in 1504. This work was one of the first of many to come that demonstrated Raphael's narrative approach to painting, in addtion to the influence of Da Vinci with the use of the sfumato technique that gives the figures a soft focus in the light and shadow, enhancing their realism.
By 1504, Raphael had arrived in the art capital of Italy - Florence. It was here where Raphael accomplished many of his great series of Madonna portraits, and where Leonardo's influence became much more evident.
He spent the last decade of his life in Rome, where he completed his greatest works for the Vatican, including a series of large-scale frescos for the papal residence. The two greatest of these frescos are the School of Athens and the Disputa. School of Athens is his great work of homage to the academic disciplines of theology, philosophy, literature and the arts. Raphael even incorporates portraits resembling Da Vinci as the philosopher Plato, his rival Michelangelo, and even a self-portrait.
Raphael was also commissioned later on by Pope Leo X to create tapestries that would hang in the Sistine Chapel. Before doing the tapestries, Raphael painted full-size cartoon paintings that would resemble the tapestries. But it is the cartoon paintings that seem to have a more dramatic, powerful impact, as the represent Raphael at his best as a painter.
Raphael died at the age of 37 on his birthday, and was greatly celebrated at his funeral by the Vatican. He was buried at the Pantheon in Rome.

School of Athens
base width 770 cm

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