Virgin and Child enthroned with Sts John the Baptist and Nicholas of Bari
(the Ansidei altarpiece)
Oil on panel
209 x 148 cm
National Gallery, London
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 never married but is said to have many lovers.
Raphael died on the 6th of April 1520 (on his 37th birthday) and was buried the next day in the Pantheon. His funeral was very well attended attracting large crowds.
He was a popular personality, famous, wealthy, and honored (it is said that Pope Leo X, who wept bitterly when he died, had intended making him a cardinal), and his influence was widely spread even during his own lifetime.
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, 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. In the modern era Raphael's past canonical status has counted against him and he has inevitably been compared, often unfavorably, to Leonardo and Michelangelo, whose personalities and artistic expression more readily accord with 20th-century sensibilities.