Athenian school

Raphael Santi – the greatest genius of Italian painting of the XVI century

Raphael Santi The Judgment of Solomon
The Judgment of Solomon

Raphael Santi was a brilliant Italian artist, one of the brightest representatives of Renaissance painting, a master of portrait and religious genres. Widely known throughout the world for his paintings on mythological themes, numerous frescoes, drawings and altar paintings. Raphael was also an outstanding architect; many churches and cathedrals, palaces and villas of the nobility of that time were built according to his projects in Italy.

Raphael Santi lived a bright, but very short life. His masterpieces are easily recognizable by the perfect harmony and high spirituality of the images. And the greatest glory to the Great Master of the Renaissance was brought by the images of the lovely Madonnas with a baby in her arms.

Raphael SantiThe Triumph of Galatea
The Triumph of Galatea

Biography of Raphael Santi

The boy was orphaned early, but his father managed to instill in his son a love of art and even taught the basics of painting in his workshop.

After the death of his parents, his uncle gave Raphael to study with the famous master of the Umbrian school of painting, Pietro Perugino. A talented young man quickly absorbed his experience, after a few years even the best connoisseurs could not distinguish his copies of paintings from the works of the teacher.

Raphael Santi Portrait of Pope Julius II
Portrait of Pope Julius II

In 1504, Raphael moved to Florence with Perugino. Here he was lucky to meet two other brilliant contemporaries – Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti. The young artist carefully studied the drawing techniques of both artists and benefited greatly from this for his own professional growth.

Raphael Santi Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple
Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple

Gradually, the fame of Rafael is growing, customers are increasingly turning to him.

Inspired by the recognition, the young artist paints portraits of the local nobility, altarpieces and faces of saints. During his stay in Florence, the painter also created about 20 images of Madonnas, most of which today adorn the best museums in the world.

In 1508, Raphael, at the personal invitation of Pope Julius II, came to Rome and became the official artist at the court of the pontiff. The 25-year-old painter receives a large order to paint the walls of the Pope’s personal library in the Vatican – Stanza della Senyatura.


The Pope was so impressed with the work of the painter that he commissioned Raphael to paint three more rooms in his palace. To do this, Julius II even fired other artists who had already begun work on frescoes. Raphael took up the order, but with the condition of involving students in the work.

In the Roman period of his life, Raphael also did a lot of altar painting, paints portraits and images of the Madonnas. Commissioned by Agostino Chigi, the artist created the fresco “The Triumph of Galatea” for the Italian banker’s country villa.

In 1514, Raphael Santi was appointed chief architect of the papal court. And in this field, the brilliant master managed to achieve success. According to his designs, temples, churches, palaces, villas with elegant reliefs and paintings were built in Rome and its environs.

Athenian school
Athenian school

The sudden death of 37-year-old Rafael shocked Italy.

What caused the death of the master is not known for certain. According to one version – too dissolute life, according to another – an epidemic of fever. Raphael passed away on April 6, 1520, leaving no children behind. And of the many of his students, connoisseurs of art know only the name of Giulio Romano.

Pope Leo I Repulsing Attila
Pope Leo I Repulsing Attila
Putti, detail from The Sistine Madonna, 1513
Putti, detail from The Sistine Madonna, 1513
Raphael Santi Self portrait 1506
Self portrait 1506
The Virtues, 1511
The Virtues, 1511
Theology, from the 'Stanza della Segnatura'
Theology, from the ‘Stanza della Segnatura’