Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, commonly called Raphael (RAFF ay el) was born in Urbino in the Marche area of central Italy. He probably learned to paint in his father's art studio. His mother died when he was eight, and he became an orphan when he was eleven and his father died.
It was at this time he entered the studio of the artist Perugino. It soon became apparent that he was going to become a great artist. He studied the paintings of Michelangelo and Leonardo di Vinci and was greatly influenced by those artists.
When he was twenty-one years old he moved to Florence and began to paint beautiful portraits. So many people wanted portraits painted by him! He could not paint fast enough to keep up with the demand, so he hired other artists to do parts of the paintings. Raphael might paint the face and let someone else paint the clothing in the picture.
The featured painting on this page is St. George and the Dragon . You will enjoy reading the story behind the legend at Wikipedia.org.
He became so famous that Pope Julius II (the Second) commissioned him to decorate his apartment in the Vatican, the home of the Catholic Church. Probably his greatest achievement was The School of Athens, a fresco in the Vatican. The walls of the Stanza della Segnatura already had paintings on them by other artists, but Pope Julius II ordered Raphael to plaster over them and make his own creation there of the School of Athens. Raphael was 25 years old at the time.
The School of Athens
It is a large painting, more than 25 feet wide. The two people in the center of the painting under the last arch are Plato and Aristotle who are standing side by side. He painted Michelangelo as the hermit-like figure Heraclitus in the foreground. He put himself in the picture in the lower right. He is one of two people in the painting looking directly at the viewer. Can you find the other person?
Raphael painted many religious pictures. The angels in the detail of Mary and the Christ Child have been used repeatedly on Christmas cards, stationary, and stamps.
He created ten pictures known as "cartoons" from which tapestries were made. A tapestry is a picture made with different colors of thread woven to create the image. You can see an example in the tapestry "The Miraculous Draught of Fishes" which is in the Vatican in Rome. First he made the painting, then another person created the picture on a wall hanging made of cloth.
( Read the story of "The Miraculous Draught of Fishes".)
Mary and the Christ Child
Draught of Fishes
Pope Leo X (the Tenth) was the next Pope and he designated Raphael to be the architect and the director for the building of St. Peter's cathedral in Rome.
He was born on a Good Friday, and he died on a Good Friday on his thirty-seventh birthday. He is sometimes called the "Prince of Painters".
Self-portrait by Raphael
Kostner, Thomas, and Lars Roper.50 Artists You Should Know. New York: Prestel, 2006.
Wilder, Jesse Bryant. Art History for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing Inc, 2007.
Barter, James. Artists of the Renaissance, San Diego: Lucent Books,1946.
Raphael Biography and Works
from Olga's Gallery
The Life of Raphael
The Legend of St. George and the Dragon
teachers' resources at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists: Raphael
By Grolier Publishing Company
Introduce your young students to the fabulous and fun world of art with the World's Greatest Artists Series. Full-color reproductions and kid-friendly overviews of the artists' life are presented alongside cartoon-characters of the artist, bringing a clever dimension to the series. Fun and educational, these light yet realistic books make an easy and exciting transition into studying the fine arts. Learn who thought Raphael was taking too many of his ideas, and what set Raphael apart from the rest! 32 pages, ages 4-8.
Fandex Field Guide: Painters
By Workman Publishing
Fandex brings the world of Western art to your fingertips with a field guide of painters, their legacies, and the often extreme lives they led. A chronology from Giotto, the first modern painter, to Frank Stella, whose black paintings proclaimed "what you see is what you see." Here is Michelangelo, who resented having to paint the Sistene Chapel because it took him away from sculpture. Botticelli and Vermeer, whose work languised in obscurity until the nineteenth century. Mary Cassatt, the only American to be included with the Impressionists. Illustrating each entry is a portrait or self-portrait of the artist, plus significant paintings and details.
A LIBRARY OF
ONLINE BOOKS and BOOK PREVIEWS
by Paul Konody 1908 (full view)
by McDougall Scott, Raphael 1905 (full view)
Pictures That Every Child Should Know
by Mary Schell Hoke Bacon 1908 (full view) Order here
Preview these Amazon books using the links below.
by Adam G. Klein (selected pages)
Raphael; A Collection of Fifteen Pictures
by Hurll Estelle M. (Estelle May) (selected pages)
Artist Biographies, Raphael
by Moses Foster Sweetser 1879 (full view)
by Anna M[aria] von Rydingsvard 1903 (full view)
Raphael, the Prince of Art
by Mary Isabella Lovejoy 1902 (full view)
Puzzles on these pages courtesy of
Songs of Praise and Armored Penguin
Most Recent Comments ( See more comments on this page ) 2011-01-14
were do i find the story behind draught of fishes
The story is in the Bible John 21:1-14.
Leave a Comment View all Comments
Famous Artists in this Series
Index to Famous Paintings
Lessons for Kids
Picture courtesy of The ArtChive Patron Program