Raphael: Drawings Colour Plates - Maria Peitcheva - ebook

Raffaello Sanzio (Santi, Raphael) was an Italian Renaissance painter, architect and designer. His work along with that of his older contemporaries Leonardo and Michelangelo defined the High Renaissance style in central Italy. He was a popular personality, famous, wealthy, and honored. His posthumous reputation was even greater, for until the later 19th century he was regarded by almost all critics as the greatest painter who had ever lived — the artist who expressed the basic doctrines of the Christian Church through figures that have a physical beauty worthy of the antique. He became the ideal of all academies (it was against his authority that the Pre-Raphaelites revolted), and today we approach him through a long tradition in which Raphaelesque forms and motifs have been used with a steady diminution of their values. He has been a major inspiration to great classical painters such as Annibale Carracci, Poussin, and Ingres

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Drawings: Colour Plates

By Maria Peitcheva


First Edition


Raphael: Drawings Colour Plates


Copyright © 2016 Maria Peitcheva

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page




Raffaello Sanzio (or Santi, Raphael in English) was an Italian Renaissance painter, architect and designer. His work along with that of his older contemporaries Leonardo and Michelangelo defined the High Renaissance style in central Italy. His father, Giovanni Santi, was a painter at the court of Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, and doubtless taught Raphael the rudiments of technique. Giovanni was an educated man of letters and was well aware of the contemporary artists of the day. His preferences seem to have been Mantegna, Leonardo, Signorelli, Giovanni Bellini and Pietro Perugino, but he was also impressed by the Flemish artists Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden. He died when his son was 11 years old.

In his early career Raphael worked in various places in Umbria and Tuscany. From 1504 to 1508 he worked much in Florence, and this is usually referred to as his Florentine period, although he never took up permanent residence in the city.

Although Vasari's account of Raphael becoming a pupil of Perugino before his father's death is probably a fiction, he unquestionably worked in some capacity in the older artist's studio during his youth. Perugino was at this period one of the most admired and influential painters working in Italy, and Raphael's familiarity with Perugino's manner, both in style and technique, is evident from the altarpieces he painted for churches in his native Umbria, such as the Crucifixion (c. 1503; National Gallery, London), the Coronation of the Virgin (c. 1503; Pinacoteca, Vatican). The early paintings include many of Perugino's characteristic mannerisms — the slender physique of the figures whose grace is exaggerated by their often balletic poses; the sweetness of the facial expressions; and the formalized landscape backgrounds populated by trees with impossibly slender trunks. That he soon completely outstripped Perugino is best seen by comparing Raphael's Marriage of the Virgin (1504; Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan) with Perugino's painting of the same subject (Musee des Beaux-Arts, Caen). The two compositions are closely similar in many ways, but Raphael far surpasses Perugino in lucidity and grace.

Raphael was clearly a prodigy, as is shown by the request by Pinturicchio, then one of the leading artists in Italy, for Raphael to supply detailed compositional drawings, of which two survive (1502-03; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence; Pierpont Morgan Library, New York), for frescoes in the Piccolomini Library in Siena.

Despite his success as a painter of altarpieces and of smaller courtly paintings, such as the Knight's Dream (c. 1504; National Gallery, London) and the St Michael and the Dragon (c. 1504; Musee du Louvre, Paris), Raphael clearly felt the need to leave Umbria in order to widen his experience of contemporary painting. Armed with a letter of recommendation dated October 1504 from the Duke's sister-in-law Giovanna della Rovere to Piero Soderini, the ruler of Florence, he probably arrived in the city soon afterwards.

To the Florentine period belong many of his most celebrated depictions of the Virgin and Child. In these and his paintings of the Holy Family he showed his developing mastery of composition and expression. In the paintings of the Virgin and Child he experimented with new compositional forms and figural motifs. In the Madonna del Prato (1506; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) and La Belle Jardiniere (c. 1507; Musee du Louvre, Paris) Raphael employs a pyramidal structure derived from Leonardo, while in the Bridgewater Madonna (c. 1507; on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh) the diagonal movement of the Christ Child is inspired by Michelangelo's sculpted figure in his Taddei Tondo (1505-06; Royal Academy of Arts, London). The spiraling movement and the sophisticated psychological interplay between the figures in Raphael's Canigiani Holy Family (c. 1507; Alte Pinakothek, Munich) display his new-found command of the modern Florentine style; at least in compositions of relative simplicity.

In this period Raphael completed three large altarpieces, the Ansidei Madonna, the Baglioni Altarpiece, both commissioned for Perugian clients, and the Madonna del Baldacchino for a chapel in Santo Spirito, a Florentine church. One of his final paintings of the Florentine period is the magnificent Saint Catherine now in the National Gallery in London. Raphael painted also a few portraits in Florence, the best documented of which are those of Agnolo Doni and Maddalena Doni (1507-08; Palazzo Pitti, Florence).