Raphael Santi/Sanzio – Celebrating His Art 500 Years After His Death
Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael, all three known by their first names, are considered the greatest masters of Italian High Renaissance. Raphael created his own recognizable style -serene celestial beauty of religious paintings – but learned from, and absorbed, also Leonardo’s sophistication and Michelangelo’s sculptural monumentality. An extremely prolific painter and architect, Raphael produced in his short life 183 paintings and numerous architectural drawings. His paintings are admired for their incomparable beauty, harmony, and balance of the composition. The most famous are many delicate depictions of the Virgin Mary with Christ and a series of large frescoes in Vatican Palace, known as Raphael Rooms. The two iconic cherubs from his painting The Sistine Madonna became globally famous.
For the last 6 years of his life, he was in love with a baker’s daughter, Margherita Luti. Probably secretly married to her because of their different social status, he portrayed in two famous paintings as “Veiled Lady” and “La Fornarina”, the second one nude from the hips up. The legends abound about his sudden, early death, at the age of 37; from excessive erotic indulgence with his mistress to medical errors and/or poisoning by his rivals in artistic circles. After an elaborate funeral ceremony -his coffin carried by four cardinals-, he was buried, at his own request, inside the Pantheon, in Rome.