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Raphael  

b. 1483 Urbino, Italy, d. 1520 Rome
painter; draftsman; architect
Italian

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Raphael, born Raffaello Sanzio, was crowned the "Prince of Painters" by Giorgio Vasari, a sixteenth-century biographer of artists. From his father, Raphael learned painting; in his native Urbino, he experienced intellectual court life. A year after his father's sudden death, Raphael entered the workshop of Urbino's leading painter at age twelve and quickly surpassed his master.

By the age of twenty-one, Raphael had moved to Florence, where he embraced the works of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. In Florence, his many paintings of the Madonna and Child display his characteristic human warmth, serenity, and sublimely perfect figures. Raphael's art epitomized the High Renaissance qualities of harmony and ideal beauty.

In four years Raphael's fame led to a summons to Rome from Pope Julius II. As painter to the papal court, his work met with high praise, and he established himself as the most favored artist in Rome. He was commissioned to paint portraits, devotional subjects, and the Pope's private rooms; he also designed tapestries. Raphael was soon placed in charge of all papal projects involving architecture, paintings, decoration, and the preservation of antiquities. His untimely death at the age of thirty-seven, Vasari said, "plunged into grief the entire papal court"; the Pope, who "wept bitterly when he died, had intended making him a Cardinal."

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Christ in Glory / Raphael
Christ in Glory

Italian, 1519