Raffaello Santi, more famously known as Raphael, was an Italian artist born on April 6,1483 in the artistic city of Urbino, Italy. Raphael’s father, Giovanni Santi, was also artistically inclined as a court painter and a poet. He was deeply influenced by his father’s passion for the arts. His mother, Magia, died early in 1491 when Raphael was just eight years old. He was completely orphaned when his father died in 1494, where he lived with his uncle Bartolome who was a priest.

Raphael was a multi-talented artist as he excelled in the fields of portrait painting, architecture, history, and poetry.  He is one of the 3 three greatest artists of the High Renaissance, an Italian period of remarkable artistic creation from the 1490s to the 1520s. He is most recognized for his Madonna paintings and murals in the Vatican Palace.

Raphael’s first art lessons were with his father and when he reached sixteen, he became a student of Pietro Perugino who was a well-known painter and teacher of the Italian Renaissance. According to art gurus, most of Raphael’s works clearly show the influence of his teacher Perugino. During that time, art experts found it hard to distinguish Perugino’s work from Raphael’s as the two artists seem to employ similar painting techniques. It is said that “probably no other pupil of genius has ever absorbed so much of his master’s teaching as Raphael did”. Raphael’s technique was just like his teacher, where he applied paint densely in oil varnish mediums.

At twenty-one, Raphael went to live in Florence where he studied the styles of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michaelangelo. Many say that he copied the style of these two artists, but as he progressed he was able to make a unique blend of his own technique and Florentine art. Raphael’s portraits have light atmospheres, balanced movements and compositions, and impeccable richness and clarity in color. He loved painting nature and portraits of people. In his paintings, he employed the faces of his family and friends and showed a great reverence for women.

One of Raphael’s most renowned paintings is the Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione, an oil painting of Baldassare Castiglione who was a humanist and an ambassador to the Pope. Castiglione and Raphael were good friends and in his portrait painting, Raphael perfectly illustrated the marks of an accomplished and well-respected personality. Raphael distinctly depicted his friend in the portrait as an elegant and intelligent gentleman.

The Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione showed a simple but unique blend of 4 shades only – white, black, gray, and a little bit of beige. The portrait was covered in a subtle light in which Castiglione’s shadow slightly fades at the right side. Raphael made sure that the face and penetrating gaze of Castiglione are the focus of the painting by purposely cutting the portrait at the hands of his model.

Raphael’s life was abruptly finished when he died of severe fever at the age of 37. A very interesting fact is that he was born on a Good Friday and died on the day of his birthday, April 6, 1520. Although he left behind an incomplete transformation in the world of arts, his skills as an excellent artist made a great mark in history.

Author:  Shyxter

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