Despite his short lifespan of 37 years, Raphael is remembered as one of the three most revered Italian Renaissance Masters.
Although he was not a great inventor like Leonardo and Michelangelo, he is known for the grace, beauty, emotional depth, and sensitive expression that saturate his art.
Raphael was born in Urbino, Italy. His father worked as a painter at the court of the Duke of Urbino, so he was aptly placed to give his son his first lessons in painting.
By the time he was 11, however, Rafael's parents had died, and he had to rely on his precocious artistic Talents to survive.
His early life and apprenticeships are uncertain, but it is known that he worked in Perugia as an assistant to the master Perugino from around 1500.
By 1501 Rafael was a master in his own right and soon settled in Florence, where Leonardo and Michelangelo dominated the art world.
He remained in Florence for four years, becoming known for his paintings of serene and natural-looking Madonna's in idealized landscape backgrounds.
As well as his outstanding drawing and painting skills, he became recognized for his handsome appearance, good manners, and courteous behavior.
Leonardo and Michelangelo complained that Rafael copied them, but he denied this.
However, he admitted that he had learned from the artist's understanding of anatomy perspective composition and softy blended Shadows.
From this, he developed his own unique and sophisticated understanding of color, line, and social textures.
In 1508, pope Julius 11 summoned Raphael to Rome to paint some large frescoes in four rooms in the Vatican Palace.
It was an extremely noteworthy commission for the 26-year-old artist who had no experience in painting figures on such a large scale. Secretly next door, the illustrious Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and Raphael had the chance to see the work before it was completed.
Enthused, he produced hundreds of detailed preliminary drawings and then painted imposing scenes on each wall, one personifying theology, philosophy, poetry, and justice. Each work demonstrated Raphael's versatility, subtlety, and understanding of color and composition and earned him the reputation of being able to replicate textures, natural poses, and rich flesh. Apart from these monumental works, he also executed easel paintings, including Religious Works and portraits. His reputation lives unsurpassed, and his style set a precedent for western art for the next 400 years.