Santi or Raphael Sanzio, Ital. Raffaello Santi or Raffaello Sanzio,
14831520, major Italian Renaissance painter, b. Urbino. In Raphaels
work is the clearest expression of the exquisite harmony and balance
of High Renaissance composition.
Early Training, Influence, and Work
Raphaels father, Giovanni Santi, painter at the court of Federigo
Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, first taught him the elements of art.
About six years after the death of his father (1494) he entered the
workshop of Perugino, whose influence is seen in The Crucifixion and
The Knights Dream (both: National Gall., London); Coronation
of the Virgin (Vatican); The Three Graces (Chantilly); and the Sposalizio
(Brera, Milan). The Colonna altarpiece, representing the Madonna and
Saints (Metropolitan Mus.), marks the end of the Perugian period of
The five predella scenes, Agony in the Garden (Metropolitan Mus.),
St. Anthony of Padua and St. Francis (both: Dulwich), Procession to
Calvary (National Gall., London), and Pietà (Gardner Mus.,
Boston), give evidence of the new influences of Leonardo, Michelangelo,
Masaccio, and, especially, Fra Bartolomeo. Studying the intricacies
of anatomy, perspective, and coloring, he achieved a freer, more able,
and deeper interpretation than was seen in his earlier work. In Florence
(15048) he produced numerous Madonnas that are renowned for
their sweetness of expression. His self-portrait (Uffizi) and the
penetrating portraits of Angelo and Maddalena Doni (Pitti Palace)
are also from this period.
At Rome his style matured, benefiting from Michelangelos influence.
In the Vatican, Raphael was wholly responsible for the Stanza della
Segnatura (finished 1511); the two largest walls represent, respectively,
the School of Athens, portraying the Greek philosophers, and the Triumph
of Religion, also called Disputà. On the vault are The Flaying
of Marsyas and The Temptation of Eve. The ceiling is devoted to the
allegorical figures Law, Philosophy, Poetry, and Theology. Two large
lunettes over the windows represent Parnassus and Jurisprudence.
In the Stanza dEliodoro Raphael painted (151114) The Expulsion
of Heliodorus from the Temple, The Miracle of Bolsena, The Repulse
of Attila from Rome by Leo I, and The Deliverance of St. Peter. He
also designed the Incendio del Borgo and painted part of it. Other
designs for the Vatican include The Battle of Ostia, The Oath of Leo
III before Charlemagne, and The Victory of Constantine over Maxentius;
the 52 religious subjects covering one ceiling and known as Raphaels
Bible were executed by his pupils after his design.
Among the other paintings of his Roman period are the Madonna with
the Fish (Prado); Madonna of the Chair (Pitti Palace); the Sistine
Madonna (Dresden); Galatea (Farnesina); the Alba Madonna (National
Gall. of Art, Washington, D.C.); and the unfinished Transfiguration,
completed by Giulio Romano. Portraits of that period include Julius
II, long his patron; Baldassare Castiglione (Louvre); Tommaso Inghirami
(Gardner Mus., Boston); and Pope Leo X with Two Cardinals.
Other Works and Accomplishments
Having been named (1514) successor to Bramante as chief architect
of the Vatican, Raphael also designed a number of churches, palaces,
and mansions. For his patron, Leo X, he undertook (1518) a survey
of ancient Rome showing the chief monuments. He also designed ten
tapestries with themes from the Acts of the Apostles for the Sistine
Chapel; seven of the designs are in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Raphael was deeply indebted to the sculpture of antiquity for his
mythological and biblical figures, and in his interpretation of classical
art he achieved a harmony and monumentality emulated far into the
See his complete paintings, introd. by R. Cocke (1966); complete works
by M. Salmi et al. (1969); biography by L. Berti (tr. 1961); studies
by A. P. Oppé (rev. ed. 1970), J. Pope-Hennessy (1970), and
L. Dussler (tr. 1971).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2001 Columbia
back to top