Raphael, or Raffaello, Santi or Sanzio
Raphael, Or Raffaello, Santi Or Sanzio, called by his countrymen "Il Divino," i.e. "the Divine," is ranked by almost universal opinion as the greatest of painters. He was certainly the Sophocles of the glorious art of form and color. He was born at Urbino April 6, 1483. In 1497, on the death of his father, Giovanni Santi, who was his first instructor, he was placed under Pietro Perugino (q.v.), the most distinguished painter of the period, who was then engaged on important works in the city of lerugia. The profound feeling, the mystic ecstasy, which characterized the Umbrian school while yet uinder the leadership of its founder, the Perugian, and before it degenerated into the mannerism and facile manufacture at which Michael Angelo sneered, took possession of the soul of Raphael. He soon acquired a wonderful facility of execution. He showed such great talent that Perugino employed him on his own works; and so well did he perform his task that it is difficult now to separate the work of the master from that of the pupil. In 1504 Raphael visited Florence, and improved his style by studying composition and expression in the works of Masaccio, the sweet and perfect modelling of Leoniardo da Vinci, and color and effect in those of Fra Bartolomeo. He seems to have lived in Florence till 1508, when he went to Rome, on the invitation of pope Julius II. His celebrated frescos in the Vatican, and numerous important works, were then commenced. Julius died in 1513, but his successor, Leo X, continued Raphael's services, and kept his great powers constantly in exercise. Raphael and Rome are synonymous terms in the history of Italian art of the 16th century. Though Michael Angelo labored at Rome, and the impress of his genius is everywhere in the avenules of Roman art, yet by common consent the Roman school of art owes its origin and life to Raphael. It became the grandest of all the Italian schools of painting, and gave concrete reality to the aspirations and longings of his predecessors by carrying art to a height all but ultimate. The Roman school combined the virility and boldness of Florence with the simplicity and the devotional swneetness of Umbria and Siena; in short, all Italian excellences Raphael gathered in his Roman creation; but with the artist who gave it birth the school alone can be identified, and, illustrious as were many of his pupils. His own death marks the fading hour of the Roman school. Of all the Roman painters, it was Raphael alone who made his works not less the expression and measure of all the knowledge, philosophy, and poetry of his time than witnesses to his genius and vouchers for what we call the immortality of his fame. He achieved the labors of a demigod; his successors wrought like mere men. Raphael hiad scarcely reached his prime when a sudden attack of fever carried him off, on the anniversary of his birth, in 1520. "'The works of Raphael are generally divided into three classes: his first style, when under the influence of Perugino's manner; his second, when he painted in Florence from 1504 to 1508; and his third style, which is distinguishable in the works executed by him after he settled in Rome. Each of these styles has its devoted admirers. Those who incline to art employed in the service of religion prefer the first manner, as embodying purity and religious feeling. His last manner, perfected when the taste for classical learning and art was strongly excited by the discovery of numerous valuable works of the classic period, is held by many connoisseurs as correctly embodying the highest art; while his middle, or Florentine, style is admired by some as exemplifying his powers freed from what they deem the rigid manner of Perugino, anti untainted by the conventionalism of classic art. In all these different styles he has left works of great excellence. The Coronation of the Virgin, in the gallery of the Vatican, and the Sposalizio, or Marriage of the Virgin, in the Brera Gallery at Milan, which is an improved version of Perugino's Sposalizio, painted in 1495 for the cathedral of Perugia, belong to the first period. The St. Catharine, in the National Gallery, London; the Entombment, in the Borghese Gallery, Rome; Let Belle Jardinziere, in the Louvre, belong to his second period. The St. Cecilic, at Bologna; the Madconna di San Sisto, at Dresden; the Cartoons, at Hampton Court; the Transfiguration, and all the Vatican frescos, except Theology, of the Dispute on the Sacrament, the first he executed on his arrival from Florence are in his third manner, or that which peculiarly marks the Roman school in its highest development" (Chambers). The two great Madonnas of Raphael are the Madonna dellac Sedia and the Madonca di San Sisto. The former, which is at the Pitti Palace, Florence, is, according to critical standards, not so perfect as others of the same painter which have failed to obtain universal popularity. But as a representation of the Roman view of the Holy Family, nothing could be more beautifully expressed. We see only a happy mother bending over the lovely child in the intensity of her affection and content, while the babe looks forth from the picture with a strange glance of conscious superiority. The Madonna di San Sisto cannot be described, and no copies of it, photographs or engravings, can convey a correct idea. In this work Raphael reached the perfection of his type, humanity raised to divinity. The grace and beauty of the Virgin seem apart from and atbove earthly associations. In the solemn, thoughtful, yet childlike expression of the infant Christ there is the foreshadowing of the sufferer, the Saviour, and the Judge. It is singular that not until 1827. when the picture was cleaned, were the innumerable heads of angels surrounding the Virgin discovered. The Transfiguration which was Raphael's last and also his greatest work, he left unfinished. It seems as if he had labored while already on the way to heaven, and we do not wonder that Vasari, in his ecstasy of joy over this work by human hands, with so much of heavenly skill in it, is led to exclaim, "Whosoever shall desire to see in what manner Christ transformed into the Godhead should be represented, let him come and behold it in this picture." "Raphael," says Lanzi, "is by common consent placed at the head of his art, not because he excelled all others in every department of painting, but because no other artist has ever Dossessed the varir-ns parts of the art united in so high a degree." See, besides Vasari and Lanzi, Robertson, The Great Painters of Christendom (published by Cassell, Lond. and N. Y., and handsomely illustrated), p. 79-95; Radcliffe, Schools and Masters of Painting (N.Y. 1877, 12mo), ch. viii et al.; Mrs. Clement, Painters, etc. (ibid. 1877,12mo), p. 473-485; Duppa, Life of Raphael (in Engl., Lond. 1815); Wolzogen, Raphael (tr. by Burnett, ibid. 1866); Quatremere de Quincy, Vie de Raphael (tr. into Engl. by Hazlitt, 1846);
Perkins, Raphael and Michael Angelo (Lond. and Bost. 1878); Lond. Quar. Rev. April, 1870.