Saturday, December 17, 2011

Raffaello Sanzio

Madonna della Seggiola (Sedia)
(Madonna of the Chair)
Oil on wood
diameter 71 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

The Madonna della seggiola or Madonna della sedia is a Madonna housed in the Palazzo Pitti collection in Florence depicts Mary embracing the child Christ, while the young John the Baptist devoutly watches. The warmer colors seem to suggest the influence of Titian.

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483 – 1520), better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. 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. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period.

He was enormously productive, running an unusually large workshop, and despite his death at 37, a large body of his work remains. He was extremely influential in his lifetime. After his death, the influence of his great rival Michelangelo was more widespread until the 18th and 19th centuries, when Raphael's more serene and harmonious qualities were again regarded as the highest models.

Raphael is said to have had many affairs, but he never married.
He died on his 37th birthday and, at his request, he was buried the next day in the Pantheon. The reason of his premature death is unknown.
His funeral was extremely grand, attended by large crowds. The inscription in his marble sarcophagus reads: "Ille hic est Raffael, timuit quo sospite vinci, rerum magna parens et moriente mori." Meaning: "Here lies that famous Raphael by whom Nature feared to be conquered while he lived, and when he was dying, feared herself to die."

"While we may term other works paintings, those of Raphael are living things; the flesh palpitates, the breath comes and goes, every organ lives, life pulsates everywhere." (by Giorgio Vasari in the edition of Lives of the Artists, 1568)

Many of his works are found in the Apostolic Palace of The Vatican, where the frescoed Raphael Rooms were the central, and the largest, work of his career. The best known work is The School of Athens in the Vatican Stanza della Segnatura. After his early years in Rome much of his work was self-designed, but for the most part executed by the workshop from his drawings, with considerable loss of quality.