Forgive me in advancement for the long post, but today is the birthday of Raphael, one of the most influential artist who ever lived.
He started his career in Urbino in what is now the region of Le Marche, then one of the most important centres of the Renaissance. He began his work under the direction of Perugino, soon his genius arose and he started creating works of the caliber of the Mond Crucifixion and the Wedding of the Virgin, in 1502 he was even called to Siena to work under another renowned Umbrian artist: Bernardino Pintoricchio, with whom he worked on the striking Piccolomini Library in Siena.
In 1504 he visited Florence, this is where his career took an important boost, under the inspiration of central works of the early Renaissance he began working for private commissioners, an incredible achievement for a non-Florentine at the time.
Until then, between a Madonna and Child and a church altarpiece, Raphael’s style even if more gentle or slightly with more character (!) still resembled that of his master, his turn from post-Socratic to Platonic, was with the Borghese Deposition, this is when we can finally notice Raphael is spreading his wings (and brush) and letting his genius work for a sensational work that will change the history of art, the work was so fantastic that although being destined for a church in Perugia it ended up in one of Rome’s greatest art collections.
Rome, his final destination where he erupted into the genius he will become, working for Julius II for whom he painted a “private” Sistine Chapel, apartments decorated with a cycle of frescoes representing holiness and knowledge of which every single scene is a monument to the Renaissance genius.
He also worked for Cardinal Agostino Chigi, for whom he designed the futuristic chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo and painted the sublime Sibyls in Santa Maria della Pace, as well as the triumphant Galatea in his Trastevere villa.
While in Rome he continued working on Madonnas as well as splendid portraits such as that of the “terrible” Pope Julius and that of La Fornarina. While in Rome, he studied the grotesques in the Domus Area which he replicated in the Vatican Loggia, the new temple of art.
As with most artists of his time he was known to have a lot of fun, and despite being having lived more than one life for a lifetime, he died relatively young under his last, mystic work: the Transfiguration.
He inspired artists to come, from Perin del Vaga to Edward Burne-Jones. He lies in his beloved Pantheon, the temple of classical canons, which in his life he took to transcendental beauty. The inscription on his tomb reads: "Here lies Raphael, by whom nature herself feared to be outdone while he lived, and when he died, feared that she herself would die."