Raphael, Self Portrait.
Italian Renaissance painter and architect Raphael was born Raffaello Sanzio on April 6, 1483, in Urbino, Italy.
He was one of the three artistic geniuses whose styles epitomize the High Renaissance (the period roughly between the 1490s and 1527 of the Italian Renaissance), the others being Leonardo the Vinci and Michelangelo. Of the three, Raphael was the youngest.
A man of an innately eclectic disposition, Rapahel had a remarkable ability to assimilate existing ideas and adapt them to a very distinctive personal style. What da Vinci achieved by sheer intellect and Michelangelo through passionate intuition, Raphael acquired by persistent study and assimilation.
He transformed the fifteenth-century style of his earliest teachers into something new and of enduring influence. For later generations, Raphael’s art came to represent an ideal of easy grace and harmonious balance.
His most notable works include his frescos in the Raphael Rooms (including the Stanza della Segnatura) at the Palace of the Vatican and his altarpiece compositions The Sistine Madonna (1513, Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden) and The Transfiguration (1519-20, Vatican Museum).
He was also an important contributor to Renaissance architecture, conceptualizing stunning works such as the Church of St. Maria, Chigi Chapel, Rome (1513), the Palazzo Pandolfini (facade), Florence (1517), and Villa Madama, Rome (begun in 1518).
EARLY LIFE, INFLUENCES AND ARTISTIC PHASES
During Raphael’s early years, Urbino was a center of culture and the Arts.
Raphael’s father, Giovanni Santi, was a painter for the Duke of Urbino, Federigo da Montefeltro. Giovanni taught the young Raphael the rudiments of painting techniques and exposed him to the principles of humanistic philosophy at the Duke of Urbino’s court.
In 1494, when Raphael was just 11 years old, Giovanni died. Raphael then took over the daunting task of managing his father’s workshop. His success in this role quickly surpassed his father’s; Raphael was soon considered one of the finest painters in town.
Raphael joined the workshop of Pietro Perugino(a leading painter of the Umbrian school)as an apprentice in 1500 – by then, he had fully absorbed the 15th-century classicism of Piero della Francesca’s paintings, of the architecture of the Ducal Palace at Urbino, and the humanist tradition of the court.
The apprenticeship lasted four years during which Raphael mastered his teacher Perugino’s delicate, ornamental style and developed his immaculate sense of perspective and geometric composition that became so discernible about his style later on. Under the influence of Perugino, he produced works like The Spozalizio, The Marriage of the Virgin and The Coronation of the Virgin.
Many works of this period, such as the Mond Crucifixion (1502/1503), are in stylistic detail almost indistinguishable from Perugino’s gentle sweetness, but they have an inherent clarity and harmony lacking in Perugino’s work. Raphael’s last painting before moving to Florence, the Marriage of the Virgin (1504), is primarily modeled on Perugino’s version of the same subject, but the compositional design is reinterpreted with greater spatial sensitivity, the figures are more accurately built, and the dramatic significance is transmitted without the artificiality of pose and gesture of the prototype.
Late in 1504 Raphael moved to Florence. He soon realized that his Peruginesque style was dated and provincial compared with the recent innovations of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. He was immediately attracted to, and subsequently became immensely influenced by da Vinci’s style – Softly shadowed forms recreating the appearance of reality, figures convincingly integrated into their settings and relating naturally to each other- these were characteristics of the da Vinci style that Raphael incorporated into his own. His old style of drawing, with its tight contours and interior hatching was replaced by the more flowing style of Leonardo.
During the next 3 years he executed a series of” Madonnas” that were inspired by compositions and ideas of da Vinci’s, culminating in La Belle jardiniere (1507). Drawing inspiration from da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks he produced The Madonna of the Goldfinch(Uffizi), set against a soft and gentle landscape. He borrowed the format of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa for his portrait paintings. He adopted da Vinci’s sfumato modeling and characteristic three-quarter length pyramidal composition(as was used in the Mona Lisa), yet retained the essential sense of clarity from his 15th-century classical background.
Raphael’s most ambitious Florentine work, the Entombment (1507) was evocative of the dramatic ideas in Michelangelo’s Battle of Cascina, though critics are of the opinion that the work lacked the spontaneous balance and harmony in combining figures, expressions and emotions as was seen in his later narrative works. He also meticulously studied Michelangelo’s sculptures.
Raphael’s artistic evolution continued when he moved to Rome in 1508. There he was influenced not only by the idealized, classical art of the city’s ancient past but also by the more energetic and physical style of Michelangelo, whose works he had studied in Florence.
MAJOR WORKS BY RAPAHEL
The Small Cowper Madonna
The Small Cowper Madonna, Raphael, 1505.
Madonna and Child, Perugino, 1500.
The Small Cowper Madonna mirrors in style and sentiment what Raphael had seen, and helped produce, in Perugino’s workshop.
If we compare Perugino’s Madonna and Child, the two Virgins share a graceful turn of the head and wistful expression.
Compositionally, however, the two works differ significantly. Stock figures from Perugino’s workshop repertoire fill his composition. Their gestures are particular, but unrelated and unexplained.
In Raphael’s painting, by contrast, both figures look out to the viewer, a unifying device he would have seen in terracotta reliefs by Luca Della Robbia.
The figures’ interlocked gestures reveal another and more important source of inspiration, da Vinci.
The Small Cowper Madonna is a more analytical variant of the homogeneous and resolute group of the Madonna del Granduca. Here the painter expresses the influence of Leonardo in a broad, soft landscape. This landscape contains a small church with a cylindrical dome, which may be an allusion to Bramante’s architecture; it could be the Franciscan convent of San Bernardino near Raphael’s native city of Urbino.
The Niccolini-Cowper Madonna
The Niccolini-Cowper Madonna, Raphael, 1508.
This may have been Raphael’s last painting made in Florence before departing for Rome.
Superficially it seems close to Perugino’s Madonna, yet it is more complex even than Raphael’s own Small Cowper Madonna made only a few years before.
Here the child tugs at his mother’s bodice, wanting to nurse. (Raphael’s signature appears in the gold embroidery at her neckline.) The two figures are closely related, physically and psychologically, through their poses and intimate action. Their large bodies nearly fill the frame, concentrating the viewer’s attention on them. Although they are depicted in a tender, maternal moment, their size imparts monumentality and gravity. The infant has imposing presence despite his playfulness. A Also, a softening of Raphael’s palette- an inclination towards more muted tones- is clearly noticeable.
|Madonna of the Goldfinch
The composition follows that of the Madonna of the Meadow, with the essential difference that the children in the Madonna of the Goldfinch are more firmly united with the central figure of the Virgin. The colour is more lively than that of the Madonna of the Meadow and foreshadows the colourist character of Raphael’s Roman paintings.
La Belle Jardinière
The Sistine Madonna
The Sistine Madonna was the last of Raphael’s Madonnas and one of the last pictures he completed himself. Among the great examples of altarpiece art, it was commissioned by Pope Julius II and installed on the high altar of the Benedictine abbey church of San Sisto.
Aside from the clever illusionism of the work, it exemplifies several other aspects of Raphael’s unique skill as one of the finest High Renaissance artists.
The Deposition, Raphael, 1500-1501.
The work in which Michelangelo’s influence on Raphael becomes most evident is the Deposition also known as the Entombment. The panel was painted in 1507 in Perugia for Atalanta Baglioni as a votive offering in memory of her son, Grifonetto, killed in a piazza in Perugia in the course of a family feud.
Raphael began the first draft of “The Entombment” to be like that of his teacher, Pietro Perugino. In this painting, Mary was lamenting over the death of Jesus, but Raphael restarted the painting and changed the overall goal of the painting. He then based “The Entombment” off of paintings done of the entombment done by Michelangelo or Mantegna, but he added his own improvisations on it.
The artist detaches himself both formally and iconographically from traditional representations of the scene. He does not depict the deposition itself, but the carrying of the dead Christ. The protagonists of the scene do not demonstrate their sorrow violently, but are reduced, through the Raphaelesque mode of feeling, to a sort of painful resignation. The vision of space is less geometric than the Florentine vision, and it appears freer and closer to nature. The influence of Michelangelo is strong, however, and can be perceived without doubt in the limp arm of Christ as well as in the female figure at the extreme right. The latter mirrors the figure of the Virgin in the Tondo Doni, which Michelangelo executed between 1504 and 1506. The formal vigour and sense of open space which characterize Michelangelo’s painting certainly must have had a profound effect on Raphael.
STANZA DELLA SEGNATURA
Located on the upper floor of the Vatican palace, the Stanza della Segnatura was used by the ageing Pope Julius II (1503-13) as a library. Raphael used the shape of the room and the divisions of the ceiling as a basis for the layout of his paintings, accepting them as limitations rather than trying to disguise them. The two openings, the window and the door, are used as part of the overall design. The window is used as a reference for the perspective scheme, the door as a support for a heavy archway which in its turn supports the steep hillside where the Virtues are portrayed. Underneath the frescoes there was an inlaid wooden dado by Fra Giovanni da Verona. Once the eye had appreciated the intricate inlay it would move upwards to the two grandiose visions, the Dispute over the Holy Sacrament and the School of Athens – arguably Raphael’s greatest contribution to the Renaissance in Rome.
Raphael expressed the humanistic philosophy he had learned in the Urbino court as a boy, in the theme of the Stanza della Segnatura (completed in 1511). It shows divinely inspired human intellect in four spheres: theology, poetry, philosophy, and law.
The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament, Raphael, 1509-1510.
The earliest of the principal scenes to be painted, the Disputa (representing Theology), shows Raphael still developing from his Florentine style in the light of the enormous challenge of the stanza: never before had he undertaken a decorative scheme on this scale.
In this painting there is a symbolic and structural centre: the Host is the point at which the perpendicular lines of perspective converge and it is the centre of a series of concentric circles which cover the whole fresco. Through the Host and the stem of the chalice lies the central axis around which rotate the three symbols of the Trinity, each enclosed in its own smaller circle, united in their movement round the axis, yet divided from one another. Around this axis the huge structure, of which the nave with figures that we can see is only a section, also gravitates. The axis lies in the middle of the chamber and it is identical with that of the School of Athens, whose structure is analogous.
THE SCHOOL OF ATHENS
The School of Athens, Raphael, 1509.
The architectural setting of this picture corresponds to the great arch in the section containing the Dispute, but here the design of the building is shown far more clearly
It is not until the School of Athens (representing Philosophy), that Raphael reaches complete, independent artistic maturity.
The disposition of each figure in this great fresco is precisely calculated, quite paradoxically, as to achieve the impression of absolute freedom. The ingenuity with which the grand, harmonious space is mapped out by the figures, emphasized by the superbly rich Bramantesque architecture behind, is concealed by the overall compositional balance and the inordinately calm atmosphere. The painting displays the greatest thinkers of the Greek world, most notably Plato and Aristotle, who are at the center of the composition.
Here too we see how amply Raphael was influenced by da Vinci. As with Leonardo’s Last Supper, all the architectural lines lead back towards a vanishing point right behind the main subject of the composition, and the distant arch focuses attention on the two central figures, which sets the tone of the painting in their expressive contrast: the idealist Plato points heavenward, while Aristotle, the realist, gestures flatly toward the ground. Though the artist portrays famous thinkers from a thousand years before his time, he uses portraits of his contemporaries to serve the composition. In the place of Plato, for instance, it is likely that the portrait is that of Leonardo. Likewise, Michelangelo is in the foreground (depicted as Heraclitus), leaning against a block. During the time of Leonardo’s painting, Michelangelo was also creating the Sistine Chapel frescos (also within the Vatican). Michaelangelo was added to the work after Raphael found himself influenced by the energy and action of his compositions.
Each of the characters indicate clearly by expression and gesture
the character of his intellect—yet never obtrusively, for detail is throughout subordinated to the total balanced grandeur of effect.
Raphael portrays himself in a less significant area of the School of Athens. He peers out at the viewer from the center of a group of scholars that are crowded together at the far right edge of the composition. Probably many of the other persons within the painting are posed by contemporaries.
The depth of expression which Raphael gives in these frescoes to the humanist state of mind has been definitively proven – he plainly displays his knowledge of the tenets of neo-Platonism in the painting. The relationship between myth and religion is demonstrated to perfection, through symbols and confrontations between participant figures. The speculum doctrinale is presented to the spectator with faultless logic.
What is so overwhelming about these paintings is Raphael’s complete control both of ideas and of their lyrical expression, and indeed his fusion of the two.
Pope Julius ll simultaneously patronized the creation of the two greatest High Renaissance fresco cycles: Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling and Raphael’s Stanza della Segnatura.
Whereas Michelangelo’s frescoes are a masterpiece of magnificient creative imagination, Raphael’s are the epitome of classical grandeur and harmony, disciplined in overall conception, artistic thought, and clarity of individual compositions and figures.
The Expulsion of Heliodorus, 1511-1512.
The Repulse of Attila from Rome,1514.
Divine intervention on behalf of the Church was the theme of the Stanza d’Eliodoro, featuring The Expulsion of Heliodorus, The Miracle of Bolsena, The Repulse of Attila from Rome and The Liberation of Saint Peter(decorated between 1511 and 1514). This subject gave Raphael greater scope for dynamic composition and movement, and the influence of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, completed in 1512, is noticeable.
Compositional unity is achieved in Raphael’s Expulsion of Heliodorus by the balance of emotional and expressive contrasts. Here the subject is highly dramatic, and Raphael’s narrative ability is given ample scope. He re-uses the centralized architectural schema, but disposes the figures in the schema with great vigour, creating two circular centres of dramatic focus, on either side of the foreground. The painting was mainly carried out by pupils, Raphael reserving for himself only a small area in the left hand corner where, with a nice touch of wit, we see Julius II, carried on his throne by Giulio Romano and Marcantonio Raimondi, watching the mythical event. The tonal difference between this corner and the rest of the fresco suggests that the portrait was painted as Julius II contemplated the scene which he had suggested to Raphael.
This fresco and the Liberation of St. Peter, a brilliant display of the dramatic possibilities of unusual light sources, witness the beginnings in Raphael’s work of expansion away from the dignity and purity of the School of Athens.
During the progress of the second stanza Julius II died. He was succeeded in 1513 by Leo X, who appears in the Repulsion of Attila, the last of the Stanza d’Eliodoro frescoes, executed primarily by Raphael’s pupils. At this stage Raphael’s assistants began to play an increasingly important role in the production of work to his designs, partly because Leo X’s dispatch of Michelangelo to work on a Medici project in Florence left Raphael undisputedly the major artist in Rome.
He was commissioned to paint three others rooms with religious art, and increasingly started to rely on his team of skilled assistants – led by Giulio Romano to help finish painting frescoes in the Stanza dell’Incendio, which enabled him to accept other commissions, including that of chief architect to the Pope after Donato Bramante’s death. The work included design of the Santa Maria del Popolo Chapel, part of Saint Peter’s basilica and various palaces, so laying the foundations of the late Renaissance and early Baroque styles.
Work at the Vatican took up most of his time, but he still managed to paint decorative frescos and portraits for and of rich several patrons; popes, rulers and friends. These included masterpieces like Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione (1514-15, Louvre) and Pope Leo X with Cardinals (1518, Pitti Palace, Florence).
THE PORTRAIT OF BALDASSARE CASTIGLIONE
Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione, Raphael, 1514-1515.
The portrait, one of the most celebrated in western painting, depicts Raphael’s friend, the diplomat and humanist Baldassare Castiglione, whose rapid ascent into courtly circles paralleled that of Raphael himself.
The piece was originally painted on wood but later transferred to canvas. Seventeenth century copies show the hands in full, suggesting several inches have been cut from the bottom.
It was painted at the peak of Raphael’s fame and therefore must be assumed to be a collaborative effort between the master and his assistants.
That said, several pictorial elements – including the understated elegance of the dress, the shaded tonality of the fabric, the light background, as well as the intelligent but simple presence of the sitter, clearly point to the hand of Raphael.
The exact date of the work is not known, but it was probably painted in Rome between 1514 and 1515, on the occasion of Castiglione’s appointment as Urbino’s Ambassador to the Vatican.
Baldassare Castiglione is portrayed from the waist up in three-quarter profile, with folded hands and his gaze fixed on the artist.
The position of the arms indicates that he is sitting in an armchair, and his overall pose – together with the soft luminescence that envelopes the canvas – may be regarded as a discreet act of homage to Leonardo’s Mona Lisa.
Raphael brought the classical triangular arrangement to its culmination in his Virgin and Child portraits. In contrast, his Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione is composed out of circular forms, and the sitter’s face and body are clearly set apart from the nearly monochrome background.
He is dressed in a costume of elegant but unadorned luxury, captured exclusively in shades of grey, white and black, is extended into the backdrop of the painting, which consists of a light and warm grey-beige tone, suffused in soft light.
Many portrait painters copied these devices, most notably Ingres in Monsieur Bertin and other portraits, but few created so sensitive a rendering.
His last work was a painting called The Transfiguration (completed by his pupil Giulio Romano after his death) which showed that his work was moving towards a more Mannerist style, exemplified by drama and grandeur.
The Transfiguration, 1516-1520.
The Transfiguration was comissioned in 1517 by Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici of the Florentine Medici Family as an altarpiece for the French Cathedral of Narbonne, along with The Raising of Lazarus by Sebastiano del Piombo. this work of religious art was left unfinished by Raphael at his death in 1520, and was completed by his assistants Giulio Romano and Giovanni Francesco Penni.
The painting combines two biblical narratives: the background illustrates the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor while the foreground depicts the Miracle of the Possessed Boy.
Raphael made studies of all the figures and incorporated them in a composition of intersecting triangles that is already looking on to the future: to the Baroque in the dramatic lighting and vigorous gestures based on diagonals, and to Mannerism in the dimensions and contorted poses of the figures.
In the upper Transfiguration, the radiant Christ floats in the clouds above the hill, flanked by Moses and Elijah. Below them, lying dazzled and sprawled on the ground, are his disciples. The gestures of the crowd beholding at the miracle unite the two parts of the painting: the raised hands of the crowd converge toward the figure of Christ. The figure of the floating Jesus is both indicated and acclaimed by gestures of the crowd in the lower section.
In contrast to the brilliance of the Transfiguration, the lower picture is marked by darkness, as well as the consternation of the apostles who are unable to cure the sick boy. Meanwhile, the expressive bodily gestures and glazed, open-eyed stare of the boy, reveal the awful effects of his condition. Raphael’s efforts to capture physical and psychic illnesses through masterful painterly technique are clearly visible both in this figure and in his depiction of the emotional involvement of the boy’s parents and other bystanders.
RAPHAEL’S INFLUENCE ON SUCCESSIVE ARTISTS AND ARTISTIC TRENDS
Some art experts consider that the dramatic tension contained within Raphael’s figures, allied to his strong use of chiaroscuro, prefigures the coming style of Baroque painting.
In his famous book Lives of the Artists the Florentine Mannerist artist and biographer, Giorgio Vasari, wrote that The Transfiguration was Raphael’s “most beautiful and divine” work. Insofar as the painting promotes the Church(by exalting the redemptive power of Christ, while reminding us of the flaws of man), pays due regard to the creative efforts of the artist’s predecessors, and also foretells the future development of 16th-century art, one might agree with him. On the other hand, one might say that the very emotionalism which makes this work so progressive (one might say its Mannerist Painting tendency) conflicts to some extent with Raphael’s signature style of calm gracefulness and harmony of balance, embodied, for example in The School of Athens.
Giulio Romano, the Italian painter and architect, was Raphael’s closest pupil. His style of art provided a foundation for future Mannerist artists
He built a Mannerist version of “House of Raphael” andd also Giulio finished The Transfiguration after Raphael’s death, showing the similarity of styles. Villa Madama By Giulio Romano was often mistaken as the work of Raphael.
Guido Reni learned from the Bologonese School, whose teachings derived from Raphael.
Raphael’s St. Cecilia was the main reason Guido created The Coronation of the Virgin, one of his greatest frescos.
The Martyrdom of St. Andrew was a painting in which Guido combined technique he got from Raphael and put his own twist to it.
Annibale Carracci was an Italian Baroque painter who redefined genre painting by using broken brushwork. Annibale started using the exact same classical style of Raphael’s after seeing his work.
Annibale’s The Butcher Shop has evident influence of Raphael due to the Butcher’s positioning in the center of the painting. He did this after seeing Raphael’s The Sacrafice of Noah.
Name: Alokananda Mandal
Introduction to Renaissance
“Raphael as an artist”.