Raphael Biography

Early Life

Raphael, whose full name is Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, was born on April 6 or March 28, 1483, in Urbino, Duchy of Urbino. He was the son of Giovanni Santi, a court painter in Urbino. Tragically, Raphael lost his mother in 1491 and his father in 1494, leaving him orphaned at age 11. Despite this, Raphael quickly found out he had inherited his father’s talents and passion.


At a young age, Raphael became an assistant to his father, who had recognized his boy’s artistic potential. Giovanni Santi was highly regarded as a painter during his time, and several of his works are said to have been finished by Raphael himself. From his father, Raphael was trained in the techniques and styles that formed the basis of his artistic career. After his father’s death, he was looked after by his paternal uncle, who sent him to Pietro Perugino’s workshop in Perugia, where he became a master in his late teens.


Besides being influenced by the work of his father and Perugino, Raphael was also highly inspired by the works of great Italian masters like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Fra Bartolomeo. This strong influence of the High Renaissance masters is visible in his early works. Raphael moved to Florence in 1504, where he witnessed the mature works of Leonardo and Michelangelo. His style evolved, his figures became more dynamic and complex.

Major Artworks

Some of Raphael’s most famous works were completed while he was in Rome. These include The School of Athens (1509-1511), The Sistine Madonna (1512-1513), The Transfiguration (1516-1520), and the Raphael Rooms in the Vatican Palace. His artistic output was impressive considering his death at the young age of 37. His large-scale frescos depicting philosophy, poetry, law, and theology brought him high fame. His work characteristically harmonized and combined elements of the classical movement with those of the high renaissance to create pieces with a uniquely serene image, his works continued to be influential and iconic till today.

Art Movements

Raphael was a key player in the Italian High Renaissance movement, characterized by a focus on harmony, order, and clarity. His work embodied the principles of this period – balance, clarity of forms, and a tranquil mood that aimed to be admired for its aesthetic appeal more than religious or moral meanings. He was also very influential in the development of Mannerist art, with many subsequent artists attempting to emulate his style.


Unlike many struggling artists, Raphael enjoyed immense fame and success during his lifetime. He was adored by his patrons and widely regarded as one of Italy’s greatest artists, even before his early death. His skill in depicting the human form, his use of color and his ability to convey a story visually is still applauded by critics. His premature death in Rome on April 6, 1520, shocked Rome, and he was buried in the Pantheon, a paean to his greatness. His influence continued long after his death, with generations of artists aspiring to emulate his work. His legacy continues to live on in the works he left behind – reaffirming his place in history as one of the greatest painters of the Renaissance.

All Raphael Artwork on 30 Art

Artwork Name Year Medium
The Miraculous Draught of Fishes (cartoon for the Sistine Chapel) 1515
Theological Virtues 1507
Theology, from the ‘Stanza della Segnatura’ 1509 – 1511 fresco
The Parnassus, detail of Homer, Dante and Virgil, in the Stanze della Segnatura 1510 – 1511 fresco
The Parnassus, from the Stanza delle Segnatura 1510 – 1511 fresco
The Parnassus, from the Stanza delle Segnatura (detail) 1510 – 1511 fresco