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Italian Renaissance Painter | Raphael Sanzio

Portrait of Raphael Sanzio, age 17

Self Portrait, Raphael Sanzio
1506. Oil on wood, 45 x 33 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

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Italian Renaissance painter, Raphael Sanzio (1483-1520), was born in Urbino to Giovanni Sanzio, a poet and painter in the court of Guidobaldo Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino. With his father's connections, Raphael Sanzio would have spent his early life in or near the Urbino court where he would have learned much about courtly life, power and influence.  


Italian Renaissance art historian, Giorgio Vasari, reports that Raphael Sanzio was placed at a young age in the workshop of renowned Italian Renaissance painter, Pietro Perugino. Vasari’s account, however, cannot be substantiated. Due to early stylistic similarities, it seems likely though that Raphael Sanzio was at least acquainted with Perugino’s work. Vasari says that Raphael Sanzio was attracted to Florence as a young adult so that he could learn from Italian Renaissance painters Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarrati who had already achieved great fame.

Raphael Sanzio eventually traveled to Rome where he accepted a commission in 1511 to join a team of Italian Renaissance painters to decorate the private library and papal apartmentin the Vatican Palace for Pope Julius II, a great military leader and art patron. It is uncertain how he obtained such a prestigious commission, but it is believed that Raphael Sanzio may have been recommended by his cousin, Donato Bramante, famed Italian Renaissance architect. Raphael Sanzio eventually took over the decoration of all the papal apartments and made history with his meteoric rise to fame.

So revered was Italian Renaissance painter, Raphael Sanzio, that he earned the sobriquet “Prince of Painters.” He died in 1520 at the age of 37 and was buried in the Pantheon.

Brenda Harness, Art Historian

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