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Raphael Self-Portrait, 1506, Uffizi Gallery
Raphael's signature
Self-portrait (left), detail from The School of Athens , 1510/11, Rooms of the Vatican

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino , also Raffael da Urbino , Raffaello Santi [ rafːaˈɛlːo ˈsanti ], Raffaello Sanzio [ ˈsantsi̯o ] or Raphael for short (born  April 6 or March 28, 1483 in Urbino ; † April 6, 1520 in Rome ) was an Italian painter and architect . He is considered one of the most important artists of the Italian High Renaissance .

Raffael achieved fame above all as a painter for his harmonious and balanced compositions and lovely Madonna pictures. During his lifetime he enjoyed the privilege of being known only by his first name, and even today very few people know his last name. Until well into the 19th century, he was considered the greatest painter of all time. In addition to his career as a painter in Florence and at the papal court in Rome , he also became the construction manager of St. Peter's Basilica and supervisor of Roman antiquities.



The birth is assumed to be April 6th (1483). This assumption goes back to the artist biographies (Viten) Giorgio Vasari , who wrote that Raphael died on Good Friday, April 6, 1520, "on the day he was born". Many of Vasari's statements have already been corrected. The exact date of Raphael's birth is therefore not known. His parents were the goldsmith and later painter Giovanni Santi and Magia Ciarla.


Raphael lost his mother in 1491 at the age of eight. The father died in 1494 and is said to have given the young Raphael his first painting training. According to Vasari, Raffael was orphaned at the age of eleven when his father died . Around 1500, maybe already 1494, the young Raphael went to Perugia and entered the workshop of Pietro Vanucci (called Perugino ) as a pupil . There he succeeded in approximating Perugino's style so closely that it was often difficult to differentiate between the works. His painting skills was pronounced at an early age so that Raphael already in 1500, so at the age of 17, in the oldest of its handed down to us contracts, an agreement for the purpose of an altarpiece in Citta di Castello , magister named (champion).

Early championship

Madonna Connestabile (1502–1504), Hermitage St. Petersburg
The Holy Family with the Lamb (1504), private property

Around 1502/03 Raphael completed his first large independent painting: the London Crucifixion . In this picture, Mary, St. Hieronymus, Johannes and Maria Magdalena crucified flanked by two angels. Around the same time, the artist painted The Coronation of Mary for the Church of San Francesco in Perugia (now Rome , Pinacoteca Vaticana ). Both compositions are closely based on pictures by Raphael's teacher Perugino, are divided into an earthly and a heavenly zone and are dominated by basic geometric shapes, especially circles.

In 1504 Raphael completed his early masterpiece The Marriage of Mary (now Milan , Pinacoteca di Brera ) for the Church of San Francesco in Città di Castello . With this painting, which is no longer characterized by a superimposition of zones, but by a clear gradation of perspective in depth, he surpassed his teacher Perugino, who was also painting a Marriage of Mary at the same time.

In the same year the young master went to Florence with a letter of recommendation from the urban court , where Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci had already achieved fame. Her masterpieces, as well as the pictures by Masaccio and Fra Bartolommeo , had a significant influence on Raphael's further artistic development. There the painter received numerous commissions from Florentines. His Madonna pictures in particular were highly valued. In 1505 he returned to Perugia.

Since a further perfection in the art of painting, which he strove for, was not possible in Perugia, he moved to Florence for the second time in 1506 to continue his studies with the older masters. Here he painted other pictures of the Madonna, such as the Vienna Madonna in the Green (1506), but also some portraits. In particular , he oriented himself to Fra Bartolommeo when setting up his group paintings. From him he also learned that movement, despite all the strict symmetry, as expressed, for example, in his Madonna pictures. Temporarily he visited Bologna and Urbino from Florence .

Painter in Rome

Baldassare Castiglione , 1514–1515, Louvre , Paris
The School of Athens (1510/1511), Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican

From 1508 he stayed in Rome. As a patron of the arts, Pope Julius II brought together the master builder Bramante , the sculptor Michelangelo and the painter Raffael in Rome. Vasari reports that Raphael was called there on the recommendation of Bramante, who, like Raffael, came from Urbino. At that time, under Julius II, he was commissioned with the new building of St. Peter .

In Rome the most famous men, among them Count Castiglione and Pietro Bembo , soon entered into intimate contact with him, and the Popes Julius II and Leo X honored him with awards. Several famous personalities were portrayed by the master, including Tommaso Inghirami , Count Castiglione, Cardinal Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena , Pope Julius and Pope Leo. In addition, several larger altarpieces were created, such as the Madonna di Foligno (1512) and the Transfiguration (1518–1520). His fame spread throughout Italy and attracted numerous students.

But Raphael was in Rome, especially the job, in the Apostolic Palace , the papal apartments ( punching ) embellish with monumental murals. His most famous works were created between 1509 and 1517: in the Stanza della Segnatura such as Parnassus , the Disputa del Sacramento and The School of Athens , which extol the arts, religion and philosophy and are regarded as absolute masterpieces of the High Renaissance , as well as in the Stanza di Eliodoro The Bolsena Mass , The Expulsion of Heliodorus and The Liberation of Peter , in which religious themes are linked to the political events of the time. Raphael also designed the cardboard boxes for the apostle carpets in the Sistine Chapel.

In 1512 Raffael also created his most famous Madonna picture , the Sistine Madonna for the high altar of the monastery church of San Sisto in Piacenza (today Dresden , Old Masters Picture Gallery in the Zwinger). After the death of Pope Julius in 1513, the painter continued to work with his students for Leo X in the rooms and loggias of the Vatican. The artist was not only active for the Pope, but also worked in Rome for secular clients such as the wealthy banker Agostino Chigi (see below).

Cathedral builder in Rome

After Bramante's death in 1514, Raphael was appointed his successor and architect and construction manager of the new St. Peter's Church . Only the substructure was started under Raphael's direction. However, he completed the court of San Damaso begun by Bramante in the Vatican. He also made several plans for private buildings, including his own house in Borgo Nuovo .

Working for secular clients in Rome

In addition, he carried out commissions for Agostino Chigi : The triumph of Galatea and the decorations in the Loggia of Psyche as well as the - now gone - Marstall in the Villa della Farnesina and the Capella Chigi in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo .

Increasing participation of students in Raphael's later works

Raphael's duties as construction manager of St. Peter's Basilica and as supervisor of the antiquities left him little time to produce his later paintings himself, so that his assignments were mostly carried out by his employees, in the case of Villa Farnesina above all Raffaellino del Colle and Giulio Romano . He also left the painting of the "Sala di Costantino" in the Vatican palace mostly to his students.

Last painting

Transfiguration of Christ (1520), Raphael's last work

His last masterpiece, which he painted largely by hand, was the Transfiguration of Christ ( Vatican Pinakothek ).

Private life

Raphael remained unmarried, but for a long time he was engaged to Maria da Bibbiena, a niece of Cardinal Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena . She died in 1520. His lover Margherita Luti is known under the name Fornarina . She was the daughter of a baker in Rome. What is certain is that Raphael immortalized them in several of his works. She is said to have lived in his house in Rome until his death.

Early death

Raphael died on April 6, 1520, at the age of 37, possibly of bloodletting to cure a venereal disease that he is said to have contracted during his numerous affairs with women. According to other sources, he died of malaria after an archaeological stay in wetlands around Rome. A dramatic cause of death such as B. the plague is also considered by historians, because the funeral rituals customary at the time were greatly abbreviated in order to bury Raphael's corpse in Rome as quickly as possible: this should possibly prevent an infection.

These rumors, especially the one spread by Vasari that his immoral conduct was the cause of his early death, only emerged later. Rather, contemporaries speak of his moral character with great respect. The fact that he had overexerted himself through his restless mental and physical activity seems rather questionable.

Burial in the Pantheon

Raphael's tomb in the Pantheon (Rome)

At his own request, Raphael was buried in an ancient sarcophagus in the Pantheon , today Santa Maria ad Martyres . The marble statue of the Blessed Virgin on the altar above the grave vault, executed by Lorenzetto , is venerated by the people as a miracle worker under the name Madonna del Sasso . It was not until 1833 that the grave was opened under Pope Gregory XVI. opened to verify the existence of the corpse. The opening of the tomb was commemorated in 1836 with a painting by Francesco Diofebi .

The Latin inscription on the tomb, a distichon of Cardinal Pietro Bembo , reads:

Ille hic est Raphael, timuit quo sospite vinci, rerum magna parens et moriente mori.

"Here is that Raphael, by whom the great mother of things [= nature] feared to be surpassed as long as he lived and to die when he died."

Metric translation by Hermann Knackfuß : "Here is Raphael: he, in whose life conquered, in whose death Mother Nature feared death."

Influence on the renaissance

In addition to painting, Raphael also dealt with architecture. Numerous designs and architectural drawings for sacred and secular buildings in Rome come from him. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and he were involved as architects in the expansion of the Vatican Palace. Raphael was one of the most important artists in the High Renaissance. Santi was allowed to paint three rooms in the Vatican Palace on behalf of the Pope. In the Sistine Chapel, too, Raphael's influence can usually be clearly seen.

Evaluation of his artistic work

St. George fighting the dragon (1504–1506), National Gallery of Art , Washington

Raphael's work was entirely based on the ideal of beauty. For him, art, above all else, has aesthetic value, beauty is only found imperfectly and scattered in nature. Only art is capable of "fully revealing beauty and realizing it on the basis of an intellectual synthesis of experiences through the artist's 'certa idea'."

The then newly formulated ideal of art, "which combined beauty and truth with the authority of the classical-ancient tradition and scientific foundations, became the norm and should remain unshaken throughout the development of style in modern times up to the more recent decades."

In his first artistic creative period in Florence from 1504 to 1507, Raphael dealt with all contemporary influences. Especially with Leonardo, Fra Bartolommeo and Michelangelo. The efforts to create a formal language of their own are evident in the images of the Madonna and religious "state images" of these years.

In his second creative period in Rome from 1508 to 1513, the creative fulfillment of the High Renaissance idea took place, especially in the painting of the Vatican stamps .

Towards the end of his life, Raphael deepened the formal problems even further, as can be seen in the painting of the loggias of the Vatican and in the frescoes of the Farnesina that he designed , which are executed with the greatest antique cheerfulness.

Raphael, a happy and unproblematic realizer by type, has created an abundance of naturally grown masterpieces in his life. The rural surroundings of Urbino shaped his early work with deep expression. In Rome his art took a significant turn "into the open and great and stepped out of the youthful, cheerful, playful, light early Renaissance into the full weight of the High Renaissance."

Pupil of Raphael

Raphael left behind a large crowd of students and staff, with Raffaellino del Colle , Giulio Romano and Francesco Penni , known as Il Fattore , being the most creative. Other students, namely those who only came into contact with Raphael after they had already acquired their first artistic education, were Benvenuto Carosalo , Gaudenzio Ferrari and Timoteo Viti . Another student who was distinguished by talent and production ability was Perino del Vaga .

Since after the death of Leo X in 1521 the artists could no longer find employment, Raphael's school died out. When Rome was sacked in 1527, the students who remained behind dispersed completely.

Works (selection)

image title When originated Size, material Exhibition / collection / owner
Rafael - ressureicaocristo01.jpg
Resurrection of Christ 1499-1502 52 × 44 cm, oil on panel Museu de Arte de São Paulo
Raffaello, God the Father and the Virgin Mary.jpg
Pala of the Blessed Nicholas of Tolentino 1500/1501 oil on wood

31 × 27 cm, 57 × 36 cm, 112 × 75 cm, 51 × 41 cm

Museo di Capodimonte Musée National du Louvre Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo ( Brescia )

Pala degli Oddi (Raphael) September 2015-1a.jpg
Oddi Altar - The Coronation of the Virgin 1502-1503 267 × 163 cm, oil tempera on wood drawn onto canvas Vatican Pinacoteca
Raphael - The Annunciation (Oddi altar) .jpg
The Annunciation (Oddi Altar) 1502-1503 27 × 50 cm, oil tempera on wood Vatican Pinacoteca
The Adoration of the Magi - Rafael.jpg
The Adoration of the Magi (Oddi Altar) 1502-1503 27 × 50 cm, oil tempera on wood Vatican Pinacoteca
Raphael Presentation in the Temple.jpg
Presentation in the temple (Oddi altar) 1502-1503 27 × 50 cm, oil tempera on wood Vatican Pinacoteca
Raffael 024.jpg
Madonna Connestabile 1502-1504 17.9 × 17.9 cm, oil tempera on wood drawn onto canvas Hermitage
Raffaello - Spozalizio - Web Gallery of Art.jpg
Marriage of Mary 1504 170 × 117 cm, oil on panel Pinacoteca di Brera
RAFAEL - Sueño del Caballero (National Gallery de Londres, 1504. Óleo sobre tabla, 17 x 17 cm) .jpg
Vision of a knight 1504 17.1 × 17.1 cm, egg tempera on poplar wood National Gallery
The Holy Family with the Lamb 1504 32 × 22 cm, oil on panel Privately owned
Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints.jpg
Pala Colonna 1502-1505 Oil and gold on wood

172.4 × 172.4 cm, 64.8 × 171.5 cm

Metropolitan Museum of Art , Inv. No. 16.30ab
St. George with dragon.jpg
St. Georg fighting the dragon 1504-1506 28.5 × 21.5 cm, oil on panel National Gallery of Art
Madona del gran duque, por Rafael.jpg
Madonna del Granduca 1505 84 × 55 cm, oil on panel Pitti Palace
Raffaello Sanzio.jpg
Self portrait 1505/1506 45 × 33 cm, oil on panel Galleria degli Uffizi
Ritratto di agnolo doni.jpg
Portrait of Agnolo Doni around 1506 H 63 × 45 cm, oil on panel Pitti Palace
Cristo benedicente around 1506 H 31.7 × W 25.3 cm, oil on panel Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo , Brescia
Madonna del cardellino dopo il restauro.jpg
Madonna del Cardellino around 1506 107 × 77 cm, oil on panel Galleria degli Uffizi
Raphael - Madonna in the Meadow - Google Art Project.jpg
Madonna in the Green 1505/1506 113 × 88 cm, oil on panel Kunsthistorisches Museum , Vienna
Raffaello, pala baglioni, deposizione.jpg
Entombment of Christ (Pala Baglioni) 1507 184 × 176 cm, oil on panel Borghese Gallery , Rome
The beautiful gardener 1507-1508 122 × 80 cm, oil on poplar wood Musée National du Louvre
Tempi Madonna by Raffaello Sanzio - Alte Pinakothek - Munich - Germany 2017.jpg
Madonna tempos around 1508 75 × 51 cm, oil on panel Old Pinakothek
Raphael - The Alba Madonna - Google Art Project.jpg
Alba Madonna 1510 94.5 × 94.5 cm, oil on panel drawn on canvas National Gallery of Art
La scuola di Atene.jpg
The school of Athens 1510-1511 500 × 770 cm, fresco Raphael Rooms
RAFAEL - Madonna Sixtina (Old Masters Picture Gallery, Dresden, 1513-14. Óleo sobre lienzo, 265 x 196 cm) .jpg
Sistine Madonna 1512/1513 256 × 196 cm, oil on canvas Old Masters Picture Gallery , Dresden
Raffael 026.jpg
Madonna della Seggiola 1513-1514 71 × 71 cm, oil on panel Pitti Palace
Raphael missing.jpg
Portrait of a young man around 1514 76.8 x 60.8 cm missing since 1939
Transfiguration Raphael.jpg
Transfiguration (Transfiguration of Christ) 1516-1520 405 × 278 cm, oil tempera on cherry wood Vatican Museums , Inv. No. 333
Raffaello Sanzio - Ritratto di Leone X coi cardinali Giulio de 'Medici e Luigi de' Rossi - Google Art Project.jpg
Portrait Pope Leo X 1517-1519 155.5 × 119.5 cm, oil on panel Uffizi Gallery
La Fornarina 1519-1520 85 cm × 60 cm, oil on panel Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica
Raffaello Santi - Madonna della Rosa (Prado) .jpg
Madonna della Rosa 1518-1520 103 × 84 cm, oil on panel Museo del Prado


An extensive collection of over fifty copies of Raphael's works, some of them from the collection of Friedrich Wilhelm III. , is located in the "Raffael Hall" of the Orangery Palace in Potsdam . The replicas are mostly original size. Only the frescoes, such as The School of Athens , were made smaller.


  • 1514: After the death of Bramante, Raffael becomes the master builder of St. Peter, his subsequent work largely destroyed by later interventions
  • around 1515: San Eligio degli Orefici. Draft, completed significantly changed
  • 1513/14: Palazzo Pandolfini in Florence, designed by Raffael, executed by Giovanfrancesco and Bastiano da Sangallo
  • about 1,515 Open: Capella Chigi in Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome, planning by Raphael, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini completed
  • 1518–1520: Villa Madama in Rome, design and start of execution, not completed
  • Completed in 1520: Palazzo Branconio dell'Aquila, destroyed, a drawing of the facade survived


Raphael and The School of Athens on the Italian
lire 500,000 banknote

Raphael and The School of Athens were depicted on the Italian lire 500,000 banknote issued by the Banca d'Italia between 1997 and 2001.


Catalog raisonnés


Individual representations


Web links

Commons : Raffael  - album with pictures, videos and audio files


  1. “Well into the 19th century, he is considered the greatest painter of all time. "Raffael was not only the greatest of the painters: he was beauty itself, he was good, he was everything!" Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres on Raffael. "See Antonio Forcellino: Raffael. Biography (2008). He was even referred to as "Il divino" (the divine) by his admirers. See Wolfgang Schöne: Raphael , Berlin and Darmstadt 1958, p. 5.
  2. See in detail on Raphael's architectural work: Christoph Luitpold Frommel, Stefano Ray and Manfredo Tafuri: Raffael, the architectural work . DVA, Stuttgart 1987.
  3. ^ Propylaea art history. Late Middle Ages and early modern times. Volume 7. Propylaeen Verlag, Berlin 1972, p. 153.
  4. ^ Propylaea art history. Late Middle Ages and early modern times. Volume 7. Propylaeen Verlag, Berlin 1972, p. 165.
  5. Robert Darmstädter: Reclam's artist lexicon. Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 1979.
  6. The Atlantis Book of Art. An encyclopedia of fine arts. Atlantis-Verlag, Zurich 1952, p. 113.
  7. Orangery Castle | Raffaelsaal , on the website of the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg , accessed on July 30, 2019