Biography of Raphael

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Raphael was an Italian painter and architect of the Italian high renaissance. His full name is Raphaello Sanzi or Santi and he is best known for his beautiful Madonnas. He is also famous for his large figure compositions in the Vatican in Rome.

He was born (in Urbino, Italy) in 1483, son of Giovanni Santi and Magia di Battista Ciarla. Unfortunately his mother died in 1491 when Raphael was only 8 years old. His father gave his son his first instruction in painting, but sadly died in 1494 when Raphael was 11.

Urbino had become a centre of culture during the rule of the Duke Federico da Montefeltro, who encouraged arts. Raphael would be influenced by major artists in Florence and Rome but Urbino made the foundation for all his following teaching.

Around the date of 1495 Raphael moved to Perugia and in 1500 he was commissioned to help paint an altarpiece.

This is the first record of his activity as a painter, and a lot more followed.

Raphael's style was influenced by a painter called Perugino and his painting 'The Giving of the Keys to St Peter' inspired Raphael's first major work, 'The Marriage of the Virgin'.

In 1504, Raphael was drawn to Florence by the work that Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were undertaking in the city. Here his principal teachers were Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Leonardo influenced Raphael's series of Madonnas and Raphael owes many of his techniques to Leonardo, such as lighting techniques and sfumato*.

Raphael was called to Rome in 1508 by Pope Julius II. At this time Raphael was little known but the young master soon made a deep impression and his authority grew. He eventually became so popular that he was called "the prince of painters".

He spent his last 12 years...