The Early Modern World, C. 1300–1600

High Renaissance in Italy

Who was Raphael?

Raphael (1438–1520) was thirty-one years younger than Leonardo da Vinci and eight years younger than Michelangelo. Very aware of their status and their skill, Raphael made his own place in this pantheon of High Renaissance artists. Whereas Michelangelo was moody and difficult to work with, Raphael was friendly, personable, and well organized. His paintings are characterized by a sweetness and harmony that has been frequently imitated, but rarely, if ever, equaled.

Raphael studied in Perugia and had a successful career first in Florence, and then later in Rome where he was commissioned by Pope Julius II to decorate the Vatican apartments. His most famous works include his Vatican fresco, The School of Athens (1510–1511) and his paintings of the Virgin and Child such as Madonna of the Meadow (which also includes an image of the infant St. John the Baptist). He painted one major mythological scene, Galatea, in 1512, as well as an influential portrait of Pope Julius II the same year. After the death of Bramante, he was called on as the architect of St. Peter’s, though most of his designs were either never constructed, or were changed. Raphael died at age thirty-seven and was buried in the Pantheon in Rome.


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