Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Raphael - The Genius of the High Renaissance

 St. George Struggling with the Dragon by Raphael (April 6, 1483 - April 6, 1520)

Raphael Santi, born Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, is considered to be one of the greatest Italian painters of the High Renaissance. Celebrated for the perfection and grace of his paintings and drawings, together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period. 

His activity extended between Perugia, Florence, and Rome where he painted for both, wealthy secular patrons and the Roman Catholic Church. 

Raphael was known for his pleasant personality and elegance - qualities that found reflection in his great art. His religious and mythological scenes are full of harmony and grace. His portraits are elegant and dignified and enhance the character of his models.

Many of his works are found in the Apostolic Palace of The Vatican, where the frescoed Raphael Rooms were the central, and the largest, work of his career. The best known work is The School of Athens in the Vatican Stanza della Segnatura. 

After his early years in Rome, much of his work was designed by him and executed largely by a workshop from his drawings, unfortunately, with a considerable loss of the artistic quality. This, however, was a common usage by the great masters of the time.

He was extremely influential in his lifetime, though outside Rome his work was mostly known from his collaborative printmaking. After his death, he was overshadowed by his great rival Michelangelo whose influence was more widespread until the 18th and 19th centuries, when Raphael's more serene and harmonious qualities were rediscovered and once again emulated by various schools.

His career falls naturally into three phases and three styles, first described by Giorgio Vasari: his early years in Umbria, then a period of about four years (from 1504–1508) absorbing the artistic traditions of Florence, followed by his last hectic and triumphant twelve years in Rome, where he worked for two Popes and their close associates. 

Raphael died prematurely, after a short sickness, leaving a vast body of works that served as an inspiration for countless artists throughout the ages.

Image source here