“Time is a vindictive bandit to steal the beauty of our former selves. We are left with sagging, rippled flesh and burning gums with empty sockets.” ~ Raphael

Raphael was a prominent artist during the High Renaissance period, creating works that were highly regarded by his contemporaries. He is best known for his paintings “The School of Athens” and “The Sistine Madonna”, as well as his frescoes in the Vatican Palace. 

The School of Athens

Raphael was born Raffaello Sanzio (pronunciation) on April 6, 1483, in Urbino, Italy. His father, Giovanni Santi, was a court painter, and his mother, Màgia Ciarla, was a homemaker. From a young age, Raphael showed an aptitude for art, and it is believed that his first artistic instruction came from his father.

The Sistine Madonna

In 1494, at the age of 11, Raphael’s father died, and he became apprenticed to Pietro Perugino, a well-respected artist of the time. During his apprenticeship, Raphael honed his skills in painting and drawing. He also began to develop his own style, which would later come to be known as the High Renaissance style.

La Velata

In 1504, Raphael moved to Florence, where he was exposed to the works of artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. This had a profound effect on Raphael’s work, and he began to incorporate elements of their styles into his own.

The Marriage of the Virgin

Raphael returned to Urbino in 1508, where he painted several notable works, including “The Marriage of the Virgin” and “Pope Julius II with Cardinals.” In 1511, he was commissioned by Pope Julius II to paint frescoes in the Vatican Palace. These frescoes, which depict scenes from the life of Christ, are widely regarded as some of the greatest works of art ever created.

The Madonna Conestabile

Raphael later moved to Rome, where he continued to work on various commissions for the Pope. He also painted several portraits of high-ranking members of the Church hierarchy. Among his most famous portraits are those of Pope Leo X and cardinal Giulio de’Medici (the future Pope Clement VII).


Raphael’s final years were marked by illness. He died on April 6, 1520, at the age of 37. Despite his short life, Raphael was one of the most prolific artists of his time and is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time.

The Transfiguration

Raphael’s work had a profound impact on subsequent generations of artists. His use of light and shadow, his impeccable draftsmanship, and his ability to imbue his figures with a sense of movement and grace set him apart from his contemporaries. His work would come to define the ideals of beauty in art for centuries to come.

Diotalevi Madonna

Books recommended for further study…

The Life of RaphaelThe Life of RaphaelThe Life of RaphaelRaphael Masterpieces of ArtRaphael Masterpieces of ArtRaphael Masterpieces of ArtRaphael in DetailRaphael in DetailRaphael in Detail


Raphael Virtual Tours

Below is a video on the School of Athens from Smarthistory:

La belle jardinière from Smarthistory:

Check out the Portrait of Pope Julius II from Smarthistory:

Take a closer look at the Marriage of the Virgin (1504) from Smarthistory:

This video is about Madonna of the Goldfinch from Smarthistory:

Galatea from Smarthistory:

Below is a video on the Alba Madonna from Smarthistory: