Biography of Raphael


RAPHAEL, OR RAFFAELLO SANTI, called by his countrymen Il Divino, "the Divine," is ranked as one of the greatest of painters. He was born at Urbino in 1483, and in 1497, on the death of his father, Giovanni Santi, who was his first instructor, he was placed under Pietro Perugino, the most distinguished painter of the period, who was then engaged on important works in the city of Perugia. In 1504, Raphael visited Florence, and improved his style by studying composition and expression under Masaccio, and color and effect in those of Fra Bartolomeo. He seems to have lived in Florence until 1508, when he went to Rome on the invitation of Pope Julius II. His celebrated frescoes in the Vatican and numerous other works were then commenced. Julius died 1513; but his successor, Leo X, continued Raphael's services, and kept his great powers constantly in exercise.

The works of Raphael are generally divided into three classes: his first style, when under the influence of Perugino's manner; his second, when he painted in Florence from 1504 to 1508; and his third style, which is distinguished in the works executed by him after he settled in Rome. Each of these styles has its devoted admirers. Those who incline to art employed in the service of religion, prefer the first manner, as embodying purity and religious feeling. His last manner, perfected when the taste for classical learning and art was strongly excited by the discovery of numerous valuable works of the classic period, is held by many connoisseurs as embodying the highest art; while his middle or Florentine style is admired by some as exemplifying his powers, freed from what they deem the rigid: manner of Perugino, and untainted by the conventionalism of classic art.

In all these different styles he has left works of great excellence. "The Coronation of the Virgin" and "The Spozalizio" or "Marriage of the Virgin," belong to the first period. The "St. Catharine," "The Entombment," and "La Belle Jardiniere" to his second period. While the "St. Cecilia," the "Madonna di San Sisto," "The Cartoons," "The Transfiguration," and all the Vatican frescoes, except "Theology," or the "Dispute on the Sacrament," are in this third manner, or that which peculiarly marks the Roman School in its highest development. Raphael died at Rome on April 6th, 1520, the anniversary of his birthday.