Raphael: A Master in the Making

Wednesday 2 December 2020

Sian Walters

2020 marks the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death.

Sian Walters studied at Cambridge University. She is a lecturer at the National Gallery and The Wallace Collection and previously taught at Surrey University, specialising in 15th and 16th century Italian painting, Spanish art & architecture, and the relationship between dance and art. Sian also teaches private courses, and organises lectures, study days and art holidays abroad. She has lived in France and Italy, where she worked at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice.

 

Raphael is often referred to as one of the three giants of the High Renaissance in Italy, alongside Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, yet his fame and position in the canon of art history may seem hard to explain. He made no discoveries like those of his celebrated rivals: although undoubtedly a draughtsman of exceptional talent he made no great progress in the fields of anatomy, science and construction nor did he share the wide-ranging talents which Leonardo and Michelangelo demonstrated in so many disciplines. Furthermore, his career was short-lived as he died tragically young, aged 37. Yet in this relatively short space of time Raphael managed to move from humble initial commissions in and around his home town of Urbino to the coveted position of one of the leading artists at the court of the most important patron in Italy, Pope Julius II, for whom he created some of the most sublime and influential frescoes of the early 16th century. We explore how Raphael achieved this extraordinary rise in status, tracing the development of early works and influences to the masterpieces created in Rome.

 

Caption: Deposition of Christ, 1507; Public Domain