Saturday, October 13, 2012

Raffaello Sanzio

Madonna with the Blue Diadem
oil on wood
68 × 48.7 cm (26.8 × 19.2 in.)
Louvre Museum, Paris, France

The Madonna with the Blue Diadem is a painting by Raphael and his pupil Gianfrancesco Penni, probably painted in Rome around 1512. Although there is question about the artist, the composition is almost certainly that of Raphael. Due to the use of bright, acid colors and the porcelain-like finish, it is thought that the painting of the composition may have been the work of one of his pupils, Giovanfrancesco Penni.

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. 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. 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)

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.

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.