Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Raphael Sanzio

Probable self-portrait drawing by Raphael in his teens

Saint George and the Dragon, a small work early work
Raphael Sanzio, Italian painter and master builder (Madonna Sistina School of Athens), born in March 28 in Urbino (d. 1520) Gregorian calendar date. Urbino, Italy was a cultural center that encouraged the Arts. Raphael’s father, Giovanni Santi, was a court painter for the Duke of Urbino, Federigo da Montefeltro.

Giovanni Santi, Raphael's father; Christ supported by two angels, c.1490
His father Giovanni taught the young Raphael basic painting techniques and exposed him to the principles of humanistic philosophy at the Duke of Urbino’s court. It was clear from the beginning that Raphael possesed a prodigious talent. His father died when Raphael was 11 and even at that early age, Raphael was able to take over his father's workshop and later, became an apprentice to Perugino, one of the famous painters of the era.

In 1504 he moved to Florence and in 1508 he moved to Rome, where he soon attracted the attention of the Pope and nobility of the city. From 1508 to 1511, he created on of the most famous works of the Renaissance, "The School of Athens, " for the pope.

The School of Athens

The School of Athens (Italian: Scuola di Atene) is one of the most famous frescoes in Renaissance art. It was painted between 1509 and 1511 as a part of Raphael's commission to decorate the rooms now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The Stanza della Segnatura was the first of the rooms to be decorated, and "The School of Athens," representing Philosophy, was probably the second painting to be finished there, after La Disputa(Theology) on the opposite wall, and the Parnassus (Literature). The picture has long been seen as "Raphael's masterpiece and the perfect embodiment of the classical spirit of the Renaissance. (Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_School_of_Athens)

Presumed portrait age 33 (wikipedia) 

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 (1504–1508) absorbing the artistic traditions of Florence, followed by his last hectic and triumphant twelve years in Rome, working for two Popes and their close associates.

Red chalk study for the Villa Farnesina Three Graces

Sistine Madonna (1512). One of the most famous paintings of the Madonna ever made.
 Dying young (age 37) only enhanced his reuptation. Vasari claims that he died of "excessive Lust" for his mistress. La Fornaria. Well, it makes a nice story but we will never know. Rome was not the most healthy city in the Renaissance and he could have died from the malarial fevers that were epidenic in the city, typhus, typhoid.. you name it, the Renaissance had it and no way to cure it

La Fornarina, Raphael's mistress
Margareti Luti, or the baker's daughter is in this portrait wearing a lot of bare skin with an oriental style hat plus jewel on her dark hair. Her breasts are bare with the left one partially covered by her hand. Her posture of partially covering the breast and the stomach mirrors that of the classical sculptures that were being discovered at the time.

Her left hand rests between her thighs, the fingers splayed out and outlined by the deep, bloody-red of her discarded gown.  On her left arm there is a narrow leather band on which is the name of the artist – RAPHAEL URBINAS.  On the third finger of her left hand she appears to be wearing a ruby wedding band.  The presence of a ring was only discovered in the early part of the twenty-first century when the painting underwent some X-Ray analysis during restoration and cleaning work and which has occasioned volumes of discussion. Whether or not the painting was of Raphael's mistress or of the mistress of his patron Agostino Chigi is also controversial.

Raphael's tomb in the Pantheon. The Madonna is by Lorenzetto.

After his death, the influence of his celebrated rival Michelangelo was more widespread until the 18th and 19th centuries, when Raphael's more serene and harmonious qualities were again regarded as the highest models.

While his reputation has risen and fallen with the tides of artistic taste, for those who like a certain type of Renaissance religious art, his work has never gone out of fashion.

Complete Works: http://www.raphaelsanzio.org
The Met: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/artist/raphael-raffaello-sanzio-or-santi/ 
Architecture in Renaissance Italy http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/itar/hd_itar.htm 
Leonardo da Vinci: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/leon/hd_leon.htm 
Renaissance Drawings: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/drwg/hd_drwg.htm

1 comment:

Carla Ives said...

Raphael has always been one of my favorite Renaissance artists. I love everything of his I've seen, but I think the first one you posted, "St. George and the Dragon," is my all-time favorite. And although I learned the most about him when I taught the Renaissance period in my high school history classes, I knew of this spectacular artist well in advance as the Italians in my family had prints of his decorating the walls of their homes.