Raffaello Sanzio Italian painter and architect was born in Urbino in 1483. He was in the field of visual arts, the supreme representative of the serene ideal of the Renaissance. Agnolo Doni More than the first teachings given to him by his painter father, Giovanni Santi, had to influence the stimulation of a center of high culture like Urbino, which offered him the works of Piero della Francesca and Luciano Laurana as study texts. Even in the subsequent apprenticeship in the workshop of Perugino, the young student proved to be able to assimilate and overcome with extraordinary ease the lesson of the master, in a rapid journey that goes from the predella of the Perugian shovel to S. Maria Nuova in Fano (1497) at the Coronation of the Virgin for the Oddi Chapel in S. Francesco in Perugia (1502-03, now in Rome, Pinacoteca Vaticana), at the first programmatic masterpiece, the Marriage of the Virgin for the church of S. Francesco in Città di Castello (1504 , now in Milan, Brera).
As if to mark the end of an experience, in the same year 1504 Raffaello Sanzio si Cristo benedicente moved to Florence, coming into contact with an extremely lively and stimulating environment, where artists of the level of Leonardo and Michelangelo were active. The works of the Florentine period, up to 1507, by refined portraits (Dama with the Unicorn, Rome, Galleria Borghese, Agnolo Doni, Maddalena Doni, La gravida, Florence, Palazzo Pitti) to the much celebrated Madonnas (Connestabile Madonna, St. Petersburg, Hermitage; Madonna del prato, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Madonna del cardellino, Florence, Uffizi, La bella giardiniera, Paris, Louvre) demonstrate the wonderful ease with which Raffaello Sanzio became part of this cultural climate, assimilating different and contrasting contributions, such as the nuanced and the pyramidal composition proposed by Leonardo and the dynamic tension of Michelangelo (the latter painstakingly pondered in a complex work of transition such as the Deposition for Atalanta Baglioni, 1507, Rome, Galleria Borghese); the result is very natural compositions where the rhythms are harmoniously held in an exquisite balance between the concreteness of the image and formal perfection.
Called to Rome by Pope Julius II in 1508, Raphael Madonna of the cardellinoSanzio began the most intense and fruitful period of his short life with the great feat of the fresco decoration of the Vatican Rooms. The allegorical subjects of the Stanza della Segnatura (completed in 1511), exalting the synthesis of ancient thought with the renovatio operated by Christianity through the representation of the True (spiritual: the Disputation of the Sacrament, rational: the School of Athens), of the Good ( the Virtues, the Pandects of Justinian, the Decretals of Gregory IX), of the Beautiful (the Parnassus); those of the Room of Heliodorus (1511-14), of historical-political inspiration, celebrating divine intervention in favor of the Church, with reference to the mission of Julius II; the themes of the Stanza dell'Incendio di Borgo (1517), to a large extent due to collaborators, model for centuries of "historical painting", represent the completed maturity of the San SebastianoRaffaellesco style in the measure of the monumental composition and one of the greatest syntheses of the culture of Renaissance. The language of Raffaello Sanzio seems extraordinarily enriched: from the masterful spatial and compositional balance of the School of Athens we pass to the dramatic tension of Eliodoro's Expulsion (where a new attention to the Michelangelo's examples is sensitive), to the rich and mellow colorism of the Mass of Bolsena , to the audacious luminism of the Liberation of St. Peter, precursor of the experiences of Caravaggio and Rembrandt. After changing the cultural climate of the papal court with the succession of Leo X, a scholar of scholarly and classical interests, to Giulio II, Raffaello Sanzio succeeded in interpreting the new trends, the vision of Ezechieledivenendo, just over thirty years old, the undisputed prince of the artistic scene Roman, accepted in literary and humanistic circles. He assumed an incredible number of pictorial, architectural, archaeological assignments and tasks (as conservative of the Antiquities of Rome he dedicated himself, among other things, in 1517, to the enterprise of taking over the ancient Rome map), so much that he had to create a vast shop entrepreneurial work and use of the work of collaborators such as Giulio Romano, Perin del Vaga, Giovanni da Udine, which is largely responsible for the realization of the frescoes of the third room, of the Loggia di Psiche alla Farnesina (in which Raffaello Sanzio , serene evocation of Galatea, 1511), of the stew of cardinal Bibbiena and of the Vatican Loggias, overlooking the courtyard of S. Damaso and enriched with the decorative repertoire of grotesques, theme derived from the decoration of the Domus Aurea and later adopted also in the decoration of the lodges of Villa Madama.
In 1514, at the death of Bramante, Raffaello Sanzio was appointed chief architect of the Madonna del Granducadella factory of S. Pietro (initially together with Fra 'Giocondo and Giuliano da Sangallo); to him we owe the project (transmitted by Serlio) that profoundly modified that of Bramantesco not only for the transformation of the church plan from a Greek cross to a Latin cross, but for a different formal feeling tending to confer to the building, through narrow walkers and the multiplication of the chapels, an accentuated pictorial chiaroscuro. This trend also characterizes other buildings by Raffaello Sanzio, such as the lost Palazzo Branconio dell'Aquila (known from a drawing by Parmigianino) and the Pandolfini palace in Florence. The small church of S. Eligio degli Orefici (1510), characterized by extreme structural elegance and purity of proportions, and the Chigi chapel in S. Maria del Popolo (completed in 1520), which also reveals a certain knowledge, are clearly of Bramante derivation. Pope Julius II of ancient monuments. The reference to the structures of the ancient spa buildings is present in the grandiose rhythm of Villa Madama, designed by Raffaello Sanzio (but only partially realized by himself) for Giulio de 'Medici, then Clemente VII, on the slopes of Monte Mario; the artist also designed the overcoming of the differences in level of the ground through terraces and gardens and powerful superstructures with niches, on which stand the grotesque decorated lodges. The newest structural and decorative "inventions" of Raffaello Sanzio's architecture were true matrices, through Giulio Romano, Sansovino and Sanmicheli, of the Mannerist architecture of the first half of the sixteenth century. The pictorial activity of the last decade, in addition to the cartoons for the superb series of tapestries of the Sistine Chapel (1515-16, now in London, Victoria and Albert Museum), still records a sequence of masterpieces, dani Michele and the Diavoloai insightful portraits (Portrait of a cardinal, Madrid, Prado, Baldassar Castiglione, Paris, Louvre, Leo X, Florence, Uffizi, La veiled, Florence, Palazzo Pitti), the most famous sacred blades (Madonna di Foligno, Rome, Pinacoteca Vaticana, Madonna Sistina, Dresden, Gemäldegalerie, Madonna of the Chair, Florence, Palazzo Pitti, S. Cecilia, Bologna, Pinacoteca, model of "sacred conversation" destined to enormous fortune), up to the great and tormented Transfiguration (Rome, Pinacoteca Vaticana) which, unfinished death of the master, was then terminated by Giulio Romano. At his death, Raffaello Sanzio had already entered the legend: perhaps no other artist has been equally loved and idealized over time, but precisely for this reason his work, which enjoyed uninterrupted fortune from seventeenth century classicism, has undergone significant interpretative distortions. , both in the accentuation of formal values aimed at the academy (from neoclassicals to purists), and in spiritualistic and romantic forcing (from the German Nazarenes to the English Pre-Raphaelites). All modern criticism has instead wanted to underline the historical significance of Raffaello Sanzio's work in the context of the complex cultural situation of the Renaissance.
He died in Rome in 1520.