:: Raffaello Sanzio...

The Sistine Chapel was the official private chapel of the popes, where the Conclave, the body which elected a new pope, also met. The rebuilding of St Peter's made it necessary for other high-level ceremonies to be held in the Chapel. Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere, the uncle of Julius II, had had the Sistine Chapel built, and had commissioned the leading artists in Florence in the late 15th century to adorn it with episodes from the lives of Christ and Moses. He also had imitation tapestries showing the della Rovere coat-of arms painted.
On important Church feast days venerable wall-hangings were hung in front of these simulated tapestries. The hangings depicted scenes of Christ's Passion, and, according to one legend, they came originally from Jerusalem. In Leo X's opinion these had become too worn and unsightly and had therefore to be replaced. The timing was clearly excellent, for this replacement gave Leo an opportunity to leave behind a visible sign of his own papacy in the most important chapel in Christendom. The coat-of arms of Leo X, commissioned from Raphael, unmistakably adorns the borders of the new tapestries.
Initially a scholar was presumably commissioned to provide a program for the cycle of tapestries, and instructed to select the scenes that would accord with the key features of the new pope's ecclesiastical policy while remaining in keeping with the decoration already there. Leo expected Raphael to interpret these themes artistically. Presumably, Raphael was commissioned to do this in late 1514 or early 1515; by June 1515 he had received an advance payment. The designs were completed by late 1516, since we have documentary evidence that the final payment was made on 20 December.
The tapestries were woven in the finest tapestry workshop of the day, that of Pieter van Aelst in Brussels. One tapestry was completed by 1517, and seven tapestries were ready to be hung in the Sistine Chapel for the Christmas festivities of 1519. Three others must have arrived shortly before Leo's death in 1521, for the inventory made just after his death lists a total of ten tapestries. During the Sack of Rome in 1527, these works were stolen, and were not returned until the 1550s. Seven of the cartoons - designs drawn to scale - are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The tapestries themselves, all woven by Pieter van Aelst, are now in the Vatican Museums.
The tapestries recount stories from the Acts of the Apostles. Four scenes depict scenes from the life of St Peter. These are
The Handing-over of the Keys; The Miraculous Draught of Fishes; The Healing of the Lame Man; and The Death of Ananias. The other six tapestries illustrate scenes from the life of St Paul. They are: The Stoning of St Stephen, which depicts an event St Paul ordered; The Conversion of St Paul; The Blinding of the Sorcerer, Elymas; The Sacrifices in Lystra; St Paul in Prison; and St Paul Preaching in Athens. St Peter and St Paul were both martyred in Rome, a fact that substantiated and legitimated the choice of this city as the seat of the papacy. Leo X was using the program of the tapestries to demonstrate this, and thus to assert that ecclesiastically his immediate predecessors had been right to return to Rome after the so-called Babylonian Captivity in Avignon.
In the task he had set himself Raphael was facing a double challenge. First, he was well aware how important this project was to Leo X. Secondly, he felt overshadowed by Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling, by which he knew he would be measured as an artiSt Michelangelo had achieved impressive and in some cases extreme colour effects.
Raphael remembered his own pictorial effects, as demonstrated in the frescoes of the Stanza di Eliodoro. In his designs he staked everything on the atmospheric effects of the light and colour, enlivened by contrasts and delicate nuances. In this respect, however, the final outcome was a failure, in that he had over-estimated the technical potential of tapestry weaving. All the same, the tapestries were an enormous success when shown in the Sistine Chapel in 1519.




Raphael had a remarkable, although brief, career in Rome. The credit for having recognized and fostered his talent is shared by two popes, Julius II, of the della Rovere family, and his immediate successor, Leo X, a Medici. The two popes differed in their character, taste, culture, and political program. Yet they had a common goal: to restore ancient Rome's cultural and political importance under papal leadership.
As early as 1453 Nicholas V had begun reconstructing and extending a 13th-century building in the Vatican. Later, the Borgia pope, Alexander VI, used some of the apartments on the first floor of the north wing, and it was here that his successor, Julius II resided at the beginning of his pontificate. Towards the end of 1507 Julius decided to refurbish the second floor, the so-called Stanze, because he no longer wished to live in the apartments occupied by his predecessor, whom he detested. The artists whom Julius II commissioned to paint frescoes in the new apartments included Perugino and Sodoma. Raphael took over this work on his arrival in Rome in 1509.
Stanza della Segnatura
Stanza di Eliodoro
Stanza dell'Incendio di Borgo
Stanza di Constantino


:: Raffaello Sanzio...

(b. 1483, Urbino, d. 1520, Roma)

Raphael (his full name Raffaello Sanzi or Santi), Italian painter and architect of the Italian High Renaissance. Raphael is best known for his Madonnas and for his large figure compositions in the Vatican in Rome. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur.
Early years at Urbino
Raphael was the son of Giovanni Santi and Magia di Battista Ciarla; his mother died in 1491. His father was, according to the 16th-century artist and biographer Giorgio
Vasari, a painter "of no great merit." He was, however, a man of culture who was in constant contact with the advanced artistic ideas current at the court of Urbino. He gave his son his first instruction in painting, and, before his death in 1494, when Raphael was 11, he had introduced the boy to humanistic philosophy at the court.
Urbino had become a centre of culture during the rule of Duke
Federico da Montefeltro, who encouraged the arts and attracted the visits of men of outstanding talent, including Donato Bramante, Piero della Francesca, and Leon Battista Alberti, to his court. Although Raphael would be influenced by major artists in Florence and Rome, Urbino constituted the basis for all his subsequent learning. Furthermore, the cultural vitality of the city probably stimulated the exceptional precociousness of the young artist, who, even at the beginning of the 16th century, when he was scarcely 17 years old, already displayed an extraordinary talent.
Apprenticeship at Perugia
The date of Raphael's arrival in Perugia is not known, but several scholars place it in 1495. The first record of Raphael's activity as a painter is found there in a document of Dec. 10, 1500, declaring that the young painter, by then called a "master," was commissioned to help paint an altarpiece to be completed by Sept. 13, 1502. It is clear from this that Raphael had already given proof of his mastery, so much so that between 1501 and 1503 he received a rather important commission - to paint the
Coronation of the Virgin for the Oddi Chapel in the church of San Francesco, Perugia (and now in the Vatican Museum, Rome). The great Umbrian master Pietro Perugino was executing the frescoes in the Collegio del Cambio at Perugia between 1498 and 1500, enabling Raphael, as a member of his workshop, to acquire extensive professional knowledge.
In addition to this practical instruction, Perugino's calmly exquisite style also influenced Raphael. The
Giving of the Keys to St Peter, painted in 1481-82 by Perugino for the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican Palace in Rome, inspired Raphael's first major work, The Marriage of the Virgin (1504; Brera Gallery, Milan). Perugino's influence is seen in the emphasis on perspectives, in the graded relationships between the figures and the architecture, and in the lyrical sweetness of the figures. Nevertheless, even in this early painting, it is clear that Raphael's sensibility was different from his teacher's. The disposition of the figures is less rigidly related to the architecture, and the disposition of each figure in relation to the others is more informal and animated. The sweetness of the figures and the gentle relation between them surpasses anything in Perugino's work.
Three small paintings done by Raphael shortly after The Marriage of the Virgin -
Vision of a Knight, Three Graces, and St Michael - are masterful examples of narrative painting, showing, as well as youthful freshness, a maturing ability to control the elements of his own style. Although he had learned much from Perugino, Raphael by late 1504 needed other models to work from; it is clear that his desire for knowledge was driving him to look beyond Perugia.
Move to Florence
Vasari vaguely recounts that Raphael followed the Perugian painter Bernardino
Pinturicchio to Siena and then went on to Florence, drawn there by accounts of the work that Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were undertaking in that city. By the autumn of 1504 Raphael had certainly arrived in Florence. It is not known if this was his first visit to Florence, but, as his works attest, it was about 1504 that he first came into substantial contact with this artistic civilization, which reinforced all the ideas he had already acquired and also opened to him new and broader horizons. Vasari records that he studied not only the works of Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Fra Bartolomeo, who were the masters of the High Renaissance, but also "the old things of Masaccio," a pioneer of the naturalism that marked the departure of the early Renaissance from the Gothic.
Still, his principal teachers in Florence were Leonardo and Michelangelo. Many of the works that Raphael executed in the years between 1505 and 1507, most notably a great series of Madonnas including
The Madonna of the Goldfinch (c. 1505; Uffizi Gallery, Florence), the Madonna del Prato (c. 1505; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), the Esterházy Madonna (c. 1505-07; Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest), and La Belle Jardinière (c. 1507; Louvre Museum, Paris), are marked by the influence of Leonardo, who since 1480 had been making great innovations in painting. Raphael was particularly influenced by Leonardo's Madonna and Child with St. Anne pictures, which are marked by an intimacy and simplicity of setting uncommon in 15th-century art. Raphael learned the Florentine method of building up his composition in depth with pyramidal figure masses; the figures are grouped as a single unit, but each retains its own individuality and shape. A new unity of composition and suppression of inessentials distinguishes the works he painted in Florence. Raphael also owed much to Leonardo's lighting techniques; he made moderate use of Leonardo's chiaroscuro (i.e., strong contrast between light and dark), and he was especially influenced by his sfumato (i.e., use of extremely fine, soft shading instead of line to delineate forms and features). Raphael went beyond Leonardo, however, in creating new figure types whose round, gentle faces reveal uncomplicated and typically human sentiments but raised to a sublime perfection and serenity.
In 1507 Raphael was commissioned to paint the
Deposition of Christ that is now in the Borghese Gallery in Rome. In this work, it is obvious that Raphael set himself deliberately to learn from Michelangelo the expressive possibilities of human anatomy. But Raphael differed from Leonardo and Michelangelo, who were both painters of dark intensity and excitement, in that he wished to develop a calmer and more extroverted style that would serve as a popular, universally accessible form of visual communication.
Last years in Rome
Raphael was called to Rome toward the end of 1508 by
Pope Julius II at the suggestion of the architect Donato Bramante. At this time Raphael was little known in Rome, but the young man soon made a deep impression on the volatile Julius and the papal court, and his authority as a master grew day by day. Raphael was endowed with a handsome appearance and great personal charm in addition to his prodigious artistic talents, and he eventually became so popular that he was called "the prince of painters."
Raphael spent the last 12 years of his short life in Rome. They were years of feverish activity and successive masterpieces. His first task in the city was to paint a cycle of frescoes in a suite of medium-sized rooms in the Vatican papal apartments in which Julius himself lived and worked; these rooms are known simply as
the Stanze. The Stanza della Segnatura (1508-11) and Stanza d'Eliodoro (1512-14) were decorated practically entirely by Raphael himself; the murals in the Stanza dell'Incendio (1514-17), though designed by Raphael, were largely executed by his numerous assistants and pupils.
The decoration of the Stanza della Segnatura was perhaps Raphael's greatest work. Julius II was a highly cultured man who surrounded himself with the most illustrious personalities of the Renaissance. He entrusted Bramante with the construction of a new basilica of St. Peter to replace the original 4th-century church; he called upon Michelangelo to execute his tomb and compelled him against his will to decorate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; and, sensing the genius of Raphael, he committed into his hands the interpretation of the philosophical scheme of the frescoes in the Stanza della Segnatura. This theme was the historical justification of the power of the Roman Catholic church through Neoplatonic philosophy.
The four main fresco walls in the Stanza della Segnatura are occupied by the
Disputa and the School of Athens on the larger walls and the Parnassus and Cardinal Virtues on the smaller walls. The two most important of these frescoes are the Disputa and the School of Athens. The Disputa, showing a celestial vision of God and his prophets and apostles above a gathering of representatives, past and present, of the Roman Catholic church, equates through its iconography the triumph of the church and the triumph of truth. The School of Athens is a complex allegory of secular knowledge, or philosophy, showing Plato and Aristotle surrounded by philosophers, past and present, in a splendid architectural setting; it illustrates the historical continuity of Platonic thought. The School of Athens is perhaps the most famous of all Raphael's frescoes, and one of the culminating artworks of the High Renaissance. Here Raphael fills an ordered and stable space with figures in a rich variety of poses and gestures, which he controls in order to make one group of figures lead to the next in an interweaving and interlocking pattern, bringing the eye to the central figures of Plato and Aristotle at the converging point of the perspectival space. The space in which the philosophers congregate is defined by the pilasters and barrel vaults of a great basilica that is based on Bramante's design for the new St Peter's in Rome. The general effect of the fresco is one of majestic calm, clarity, and equilibrium.
About the same time, probably in 1511, Raphael painted a more secular subject, the
Triumph of Galatea in the Villa Farnesina in Rome; this work was perhaps the High Renaissance's most successful evocation of the living spirit of classical antiquity. Meanwhile, Raphael's decoration of the papal apartments continued after the death of Julius in 1513 and into the succeeding pontificate of Leo X until 1517. In contrast to the generalized allegories in the Stanza della Segnatura, the decorations in the second room, the Stanza d'Eliodoro, portray specific miraculous events in the history of the Christian church. The four principal subjects are The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple, The Miracle at Bolsena, The Liberation of St Peter, and Leo I Halting Attila. These frescoes are deeper and richer in colour than are those in the earlier room, and they display a new boldness on Raphael's part in both their dramatic subjects and their unusual effects of light. The Liberation of St Peter, for example, is a night scene and contains three separate lighting effects - moonlight, the torch carried by a soldier, and the supernatural light emanating from an angel. Raphael delegated his assistants to decorate the third room, the Stanze dell'Incendio, with the exception of one fresco, the Fire in the Borgo, in which his pursuit of more dramatic pictorial incidents and his continuing study of the male nude are plainly apparent.
The Madonnas that Raphael painted in Rome show him turning away from the serenity and gentleness of his earlier works in order to emphasize qualities of energetic movement and grandeur. His
Alba Madonna (1508; National Gallery, Washington) epitomizes the serene sweetness of the Florentine Madonnas but shows a new maturity of emotional expression and supreme technical sophistication in the poses of the figures. It was followed by the Madonna di Foligno (1510; Vatican Museum) and the Sistine Madonna (1513; Gemäldegalerie, Dresden), which show both the richness of colour and new boldness in compositional invention typical of Raphael's Roman period. Some of his other late Madonnas, such as the Madonna of Francis I (Louvre), are remarkable for their polished elegance. Besides his other accomplishments, Raphael became the most important portraitist in Rome during the first two decades of the 16th century. He introduced new types of presentation and new psychological situations for his sitters, as seen in the portrait of Leo X with Two Cardinals (1517-19; Uffizi, Florence). Raphael's finest work in the genre is perhaps the Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione (1516; Louvre), a brilliant and arresting character study.
Leo X commissioned Raphael to design
10 large tapestries to hang on the walls of the Sistine Chapel. Seven of the ten cartoons (full-size preparatory drawings) were completed by 1516, and the tapestries woven after them were hung in place in the chapel by 1519. The tapestries themselves are still in the Vatican, while seven of Raphael's original cartoons are in the British royal collection and are on view at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. These cartoons represent Christ's Charge to Peter, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, The Death of Ananias, The Healing of the Lame Man, The Blinding of Elymas, The Sacrifice at Lystra, and St Paul Preaching at Athens. In these pictures Raphael created prototypes that would influence the European tradition of narrative history painting for centuries to come. The cartoons display Raphael's keen sense of drama, his use of gestures and facial expressions to portray emotion, and his incorporation of credible physical settings from both the natural world and that of ancient Roman architecture.
While he was at work in the Stanza della Segnatura, Raphael also did his first architectural work, designing the church of Sant' Eligio degli Orefici. In 1513 the banker Agostino Chigi, whose
Villa Farnesina Raphael had already decorated, commissioned him to design and decorate his funerary chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo. In 1514 Leo X chose him to work on the basilica of St Peter's alongside Bramante; and when Bramante died later that year, Raphael assumed the direction of the work, transforming the plans of the church from a Greek, or radial, to a Latin, or longitudinal, design.
Raphael was also a keen student of archaeology and of ancient Greco-Roman sculpture, echoes of which are apparent in his paintings of the human figure during the Roman period. In 1515 Leo X put him in charge of the supervision of the preservation of marbles bearing valuable Latin inscriptions; two years later he was appointed commissioner of antiquities for the city, and he drew up an archaeological map of Rome. Raphael had by this time been put in charge of virtually all of the papacy's various artistic projects in Rome, involving architecture, paintings and decoration, and the preservation of antiquities.
Raphael's last masterpiece is the
Transfiguration (commissioned in 1517), an enormous altarpiece that was unfinished at his death and completed by his assistant Giulio Romano. It now hangs in the Vatican Museum. The Transfiguration is a complex work that combines extreme formal polish and elegance of execution with an atmosphere of tension and violence communicated by the agitated gestures of closely crowded groups of figures. It shows a new sensibility that is like the prevision of a new world, turbulent and dynamic; in its feeling and composition it inaugurated the Mannerist movement and tends toward an expression that may even be called Baroque.
Raphael died on his 37th birthday. His funeral mass was celebrated at the Vatican, his Transfiguration was placed at the head of the bier, and his body was buried in the Pantheon in Rome.

:: Raeburn, Sir Henry...

RAEBURN, Sir Henry
(b. 1756, Stockbridge, d. 1823, Edinburgh)

Leading Scottish portrait painter during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
In about 1771 Raeburn was apprenticed to the goldsmith James Gilliland and is said to have studied with the Edinburgh portrait painter David Martin briefly in 1775. But for the most part Raeburn was self-taught, progressing from miniature painting to full-scale portraiture. A portrait of George Chalmers (1776; Dunfermline Town Hall) is Raeburn's earliest known portrait, and its faulty drawing and incorrect perspective suggest the artist's lack of formal training. By his marriage to a wealthy widow in 1778, he achieved financial security, and during the next four years he considerably improved his artistic skill. In London in 1785, while en route to a tour of Italy, he met Sir Joshua
Reynolds, whose works were already familiar to him from Scottish collections and engravings.
A man of many interests and a good conversationalist, Raeburn became a popular member of the new cultured Edinburgh society. By about 1790 he had painted the portrait of his wife (Countess Mountbatten Collection) and the double portrait of Sir John and Lady Clerk (Sir Alfred Beit Collection), in which the artist experimented with unusual lighting from behind the sitters' heads. During the following decade Raeburn produced some of his most brilliant portraits, such as
Sir John Sinclair (c. 1794-95; National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh), which foreshadowed The MacNab (c. 1803-13; John Dewar and Sons, Ltd., London), in which tonalities became darker and lighting more contrasted. In 1812 he was elected president of the Edinburgh Society of Artists, becoming a Royal Academician in 1815. He was knighted in 1822 and shortly thereafter was appointed His Majesty's Limner for Scotland.

:: Palagi, Pelagio...

PALAGI, Pelagio
(b. 1775/77, Bologna, d. 1860, Torino)

Italian painter, architect, designer and collector. At the age of 12 he began to frequent the house in Bologna of his patron Conte Carlo Filippo Aldrovandi Marescotti (1763-1823), whose collections and library provided his early artistic education and engendered his taste for collecting. From 1795 he worked on several decorative schemes with the theatre designer and decorator Antonio Basoli (1774-1848), and it was perhaps in theatre designs that Palagi was first exposed to an eclectic range of motifs from exotic cultures. He was influenced by the linear, mannered style of Felice
Giani, with whom he frequented the important evening drawing sessions at the house of the engraver Francesco Rosaspina (1762-1841).
Beginning in 1802, he participated in the informal Accademia della Pace, Bologna, as well as studying at the Accademia Clementina, and was elected to the Accademia Nazionale di Belle Arti of Bologna in 1803. Soon his draughtsmanship took on a bizarre, brooding style akin to that of
Piranesi and such early Romantics as Luigi Sabatelli and Henry Fuseli. During this period he began designing funerary monuments, a type of commission that he continued to receive throughout his life. In 1805 he worked with Giani on the decorations of the Palazzo Aldini, Bologna.
He had a self-described "mania for antique things" that affected all aspects of his life. His interest in archaeology began when he moved to Rome in 1806 and soon became a fundamental inspiration in his work. Palagi was interested in Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquity, whose motifs he inventively and eclectically combined in his furniture and ornament designs. He was a passionate collector and amassed one of the richest archaeological collections of the 1800s. Palagi owned a considerable collection of bronzes, marble sculptures, Etruscan vases, and gold, silver, and glass objects acquired during his years living in Rome, Milan, and Turin.

:: Mantegna, Andrea...

(b. 1431, Isola di Cartura, d. 1506, Mantova)

Mantegna, Andrea (1431-1506), one of the foremost north Italian painters of the 15th century. A master of perspective and foreshortening, he made important contributions to the compositional techniques of Renaissance painting.
Born (probably at Isola di Carturo, between Vicenza and Padua) in 1431, Mantegna became the apprentice and adopted son of the painter
Francesco Squarcione of Padua. He developed a passionate interest in classical antiquity. The influence of both ancient Roman sculpture and the contemporary sculptor Donatello are clearly evident in Mantegna's rendering of the human figure. His human forms were distinguished for their solidity, expressiveness, and anatomical correctness.
Mantegna's principal works in Padua were religious. His first great success was a series of frescoes on the lives of St. James and St. Christopher in the Ovetari Chapel of the Church of the Eremitani (1456; badly damaged in World War II). In 1459 Mantegna went to Mantua to become court painter to the ruling Gonzaga family and accordingly turned from religious to secular and allegorical subjects. His masterpiece was a series of frescoes (1465-74) for the
Camera degli Sposi (“bridal chamber”) of the Palazzo Ducale. In these works, he carried the art of illusionistic perspective to new limits. His figures depicting the court were not simply applied to the wall like flat portraits but appeared to be taking part in realistic scenes, as if the walls had disappeared. The illusion is carried over onto the ceiling, which appears to be open to the sky, with servants, a peacock, and cherubs leaning over a railing. This was the prototype of illusionistic ceiling painting and was to become an important element of baroque and rococo art.
Mantegna's later works varied in quality. His largest undertaking, a fresco series on the Triumphs of Caesar (1489, Hampton Court Palace, England), displays a rather dry classicism, but
Parnassus (1497, Louvre, Paris), an allegorical painting commissioned by Isabelle d'Este, is his freshest, most animated work. His work never ceased to be innovative. In Madonna of Victory (1495, Louvre), he introduced a new compositional arrangement, based on diagonals, which was later to be exploited by Correggio, while his Dead Christ (Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan) was a tour de force of foreshortening that pointed ahead to the style of 16th-century Mannerism.
One of the key artistic figures of the second half of the 15th century, Mantegna was the dominant influence on north Italian painting for 50 years. It was also through him that German artists, notably Albrecht Dürer, were made aware of the artistic discoveries of the Italian Renaissance. He died in Mantua on September 13, 1506.


:: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo...

Giovan Battista Tiepolo
1696 - 1770
Giambattista Tiepolo. Italian painter, born in Venice in 1696. Dies in Madrid in 1770.
Tiepolo is a student of Gregorio Lazzarini's. In 1719 he joins the Venetian guild of painters. He soon turns away from the darker hues of the Baroque opting for sunny colorful tableaux instead. His first success testifies to his new style: a series of frescoes on biblical scenes for the episcopal palace in Udine in 1726 show that Tiepolo has joined the tradition of the Venetian Renaissance and follows in the footsteps of such inspirators as
Paolo Veronese.
After Udine, Tiepolo starts to turn out a stream of happy, fantastical canvasses and frescoes, often on religious themes, or portraits. Typical of his work is its fresh style and such tricks as painted frames.
The frescoes Tiepolo paints for the Würzburg residence of the Arch Bishop are considered his pièce the resistance and the highlight of the Rococo period, initiated by him, among others. With a crew of co-workers Tiepolo sets out for the German city in 1750 to create monumental murals on non-religious themes on the residence walls and ceilings. The fresco in the hall alone measures 677 m2 and is the largest in Europe.
Back in Italy Tiepolo dedicates himself to commissions by local dignitaries. In 1762 he and his crew, including his son Giandomenico (1727-1804), leave for Madrid to paint frescoes for the Royal Palace. But in Madrid neo-classicism has taken over from the now unfashionable Rococo style and Tiepolo falls into oblivion.
work by Giovan Battista Tiepolo