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Raffaello (Raphael) Sanzio… 500 years anniversary celebration.

Apr 6, 2020 6:01:15 PM / by Elisabeth Ernst

On April 6, 1483 the Renaissance artist Raffaello Sanzio was born in Urbino. 37 years later, on the very same day, he died in Rome. This was 500 years ago and so 2020 shall be dedicated to the great Renaissance artist. Many exhibitions have been planned for this important year of remembrance. For now, let’s have a look online…

Here you can find a more complete insight into his life. In this blog post I would just like to highlight the most important moment of his life.

Raphael was born as Raffaello Sanzio in 1483 in Urbino in Marche region, which was meant to be the centre of the Renaissance art and important for his development. He was learning from his father, who was an important painter at the duke’s service. His first work – Madonna di Casa Santi – is a fresco painted at an age of only 15 years in his birthhouse in Urbino, which is today a museum open to the public. Thanks to his father he had also access to the Duke’s Palace where he could study important masterpieces by Pollaiolo or other important artists of that time.

His further stops were Perugia, where he was an apprentice and where he learned the Grotesque painting technique. At the tender age of sixteen years he got his first independent commissions, and real masterpieces were produced there which are now shown in different art galleries around the world – the Mond Cruzifixion in the National Art Gallery in London just to mention one of them. During his time in the region Umbria, he created also three important altarpieces, as well as Madonna and Child pieces.

From then, he was moving out of the regions Marche and Umbria to work in Florence, Rome and Siena. He got for the first time in touch with the great masters Leonardo and Michelangelo. He was commissioned by some private persons and so important masterpieces as the Madonna del Cardellino (today in the Uffizi gallery in Florence) were created. La belle Jardiniere is exhibited in the Louvre museum in Paris, and the Madonna del Prato in the National Gallery of Arts in Vienna (Kunsthistorisches Museum).

During his time in Florence, he got some major commissions back in Umbria and Marche – from the Duke himself in Urbino. He was asked to paint the portraits of Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, his wife, and their heir.

Also, he studies the masterpieces of Leonardo and Michelangelo who influenced his further portrait paintings and masterpieces.

In 1508 the Pope Julius II called Raphael to Rome to work together with the other great artists of his time – Bramantino and Lotto – to decorate the papal apartments. The Vatican rooms are today of the Vatican museum. After the completion, Raphael got commissioned to decorate the complete papal apartment including some of this important masterpieces.

After several other commissions in Rome and in all Italy, he was appointed as the superintendent of the most important Christina building in the world – the St. Peter’s Basilica – where he could prove his architectural skills. Doing the tapestries in the Sistine Chapel, his work can be directly measured with Michelangelo’s masterpiece.

Raphel died on this 37th birthday, 500 years ago. He was buried in the Pantheon in Rome with the inscription: “Here lies Raphael by whom nature herself feared to be outdone while he lived, and when he dies, she feared herself to die”.


When we are back to normality, I would recommend you to come to Italy personally and see where Raffaelo was born, where he lived and where he worked.

Let's celebrate this great Renaissance artist together - for now online... Which is your favourite masterpiece of Raffaelo?

Topics: #italy

Elisabeth Ernst

Written by Elisabeth Ernst

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