Raphael Famous Paintings


Who Is Raphael Sanzio?

Raphael Sanzio

You may already know some Raphael Sanzio famous works, but do you know Raphael Sanzio? Raphael Sanzio was born in Urbino, Italy on April 6, 1483. Urbino, Italy was quite a creative town with many appreciations for the arts. His father was Giovanni Santi who for his lifetime was a Court Painter to the Duke. His mother was Magia di Battista Ciarla who died when Raphael was only eight years old in 1491. Giovanni, his father, later passed away when Raphael was only eleven in the year 1494. An interesting fact about Giovanni is that between the time of his wife Magia’s passing and his own death, Giovanni was able to remarry to his new wife.

After both Raphael’s blood parents passed away, he was an orphan at the young age of eleven. At this point in his life, Raphael began to live under the guidance of his uncle Bartolomeo. People believe that by only age eleven, Raphael was already demonstrating talents in the world of art as he often assisted his father with some of his works. Raphael took over his father’s workshop and in the process of doing so crossed paths with many other artists. At a young age, Raphael was considered by many ones of the best artists in the town. Raphael’s journey of Raffaello Sanzio artwork was not one that was merely stumbled upon. Rather, Raphael was surrounded by like-minded artists who inspired and pointed Raphael in the direction towards success.

Of course, Raphael wouldn’t be remembered as the artist he was if it weren’t for his natural and innate sense of creativity, but his surrounding community played a large role in helping him find the success he eventually did. Now that we are a little more acquainted with the beginning of Raphael’s life, the events that led him to his Raphael works of art, let’s talk about some of his most famous pieces he created during his 37 years of life.

Raphael Most Famous Work

Raphael’s paintings are what Raphael Sanzio is most known and remembered for today. Here are ten of his works that have inspired many throughout all of these years.

Raphael Sanzio Paintings

  • The Marriage of the Virgin
The Marriage of the Virgin (Raphael)

The Marriage of the Virgin was an oil painting on a round headed panel that Raphael finished creating in the year 1504. This particular piece of Raphael artwork is thought to have been inspired by that of Perugino’s Marriage of the Virgin which was created a year before. Raphael used this inspiration in a tasteful way, refining his techniques to show the progress art had made in one year. The temple in both Raphael’s and Perugino’s painting is thought to represent the temple of Jerusalem. Raphael’s Marriage of the Virgin uses crisp and bold colors, making the painting clean and pleasing to the eye.

  • The Deposition
The Deposition (Raphael)

This Raphael famous work has many names that it is often referred to as. The Deposition, The Pala Baglione, Borghese Entombment, or the Entombment. Raphael finished this creation in 1507. This painting resides in Rome in the Galleria Borghese, and is adorned by many. The Deposition is on an oil painting on a wood panel and displays the lamentation of Christ, which is a very common image pictured in Christian art.

  • Baldassare Castiglione
Painting "Baldassare Castiglione" (Raphael)

When speaking about famous paintings by Raphael, we must include his portrait of Baldassare Castiglione. This portrait was created between the year 1514 and 1515 and was considered to be the best portrait of the Renaissance era. The portrait of Baldassare Castiglione is an oil on canvas piece which can now be found in the Louvre in Paris. Raphael only has two works that he painted on canvas, this being one of them. This portrait was asked of Raphael to create during the time Castiglione parted from his family to move to Rome. Castiglione hoped that when his wife and son would see this painting, they would be consoled and comforted.

  • The School of Athens

A Raphael major works would be “The School of Athens”. This piece is a fresco that was created between the years of 1509-1511. A fresco is a piece of art that is painted whilst the plaster it is being painted on is freshly laid, therefore still wet. It is this process that allows the painting to become a part of the wall rather than a painting that can be moved. Raphael painted this to decorate one of the rooms in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. This piece of work is absolutely beautiful, using more pale pastel colors, the fresco really welcomes people into a space beyond the four walls.

  • La Belle Jardiniere
La Belle Jardiniere - artwork of Raphael

La Belle Jardinière, also known as Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist, is considered to be one of the most famous Madonna of Raphael Renaissance paintings. Created in 1507-1508, this piece was considered by some to be the peak of Raphael’s artistic career. At this point, Raphael would have been the young age of 25. Like some of his other pieces, La Belle Jardinière, like some of Raphael’s other works, is an oil painting on a round headed panel. As time passed, this painting made its way to France. France is where this piece gained most of the popularity to soon be copied by and a source of inspiration for many other artists.

  • Self Portrait
Self Portrait of Rapfael

Raphael’s Self Portrait was created between the years of 1504 and 1506 but never shared with the public. Raphael kept this piece to himself for reasons unknown. When the portrait was found, it was in the private collection belonging to Duke Leopoldo de Medici. Although this painting was never shared, it is quite lovely displaying the techniques of Raphael, as all of his works did. Raphael’s Self Portrait was an oil piece on board.

  • Three Graces
Three Graces - Raffael Sanzio artwork

Three Graces is yet another Raphael artwork Renaissance piece. Created in 1503-1505, this particular piece is thought to represent the stages of development for a woman. As a woman living in the year 2021, it is fascinating to see how the ‘ideal’ woman was depicted in the 1500s. These women have more full bodies with natural curvature. Today women are expected to be stick thin, whereas years ago this thankfully wasn’t a requirement to be deemed beautiful by society. This work is yet another oil on panel piece.

  • The Triumph of Galatea
Raphael work of art "The Triumph of Galatea"

The year 1512 is when Raphael is remembered to have completed this fresco, The Triumph of Galatea. Located in the Villa Farnesina in Rome, this piece was created for one of the richest men at that age, Agostino Chigi. This piece was made to represent the scene of the nymph’s apotheosis from the Greek Myth about the nymph Nereid Galatea. This fresco can still be found in the wall of the Villa Farnesina in Rome today.

  • The Sistine Madonna
One of Raphael most famous painting "The Sistine Madonna"

The Sistine Madonna is another of many Raphael paintings. The Sistine Madonna was commissioned by Pope Julius II in the year 1512. Once created, this oil on canvas piece was placed in the church of San Sisto, Piacenza. This Madonna in particular was one of the last Madonna’s Raphael ever created. The Sistine Madonna followed the norms of the Renaissance period in terms of the use of pigments. Using pigments such as blues, yellows, and rich greens, this painting catches the eye and pulls you in.

  • Transfiguration
Raphael Sanzio painting "Transfiguration"

Transfiguration is one of Raphael’s most famous paintings as it was his last painting he ever created. Made between the years 1516 and 1520, this piece left many speechless. Transfiguration is a tempera on wood. Tempera is an interesting technique that was used by many artists in the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries. This technique is usually used on wood and requires the mixture of pigmented paints and a water-soluble binder, usually that of egg yolks. Shortly after this painting was created Raphael passed away on April 6, 1520. To be remembered for this painting is not something to be ashamed of.

Raphael Sanzio Drawings

Although Raphael’s famous paintings are what he is most known and remembered for, I think it’s important we shine light upon some Raphael Sanzio drawings that still exist today. The dates for Raphael’s drawings are not one hundred percent accurate as the people were more focused on his paintings, alas the dates I will be sharing with you may differ upon various sources.

  • Kneeling Nude Woman
Kneeling Nude Woman - Raphael famous paintings

Kneeling Nude Woman is considered to be one of Raphael’s study sketches. It can be found in the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh. This sketch study was completed in the year 1518 to later have the painting commissioned by the aforementioned Agostino Chigi. For this drawing and many others, Raphael used red and black chalk. The darker chalks were used in areas where Raphael wanted to create more depth and dimension.

  • Study of God the Father
Study of God the Father - Raphael Painting

This drawing “Study of God the Father” can currently be found residing in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, UK. Raphael created this drawing around the year 1515. This study sketch was considered to be much larger than other study sketches at the time. A study was usually found to be drawn on that of small notepad paper. However, this particular study of God the Father rests on an astounding two-meter by two-meter piece of paper. Once again, the use of red and black chalks was used to create this drawing.

  • A Man Carrying an Older Man on His Back
A Man Carrying an Older Man on His Back - Raphael's most famous painting

“A Man Carrying an Older Man on His Back” was created in the year 1514. Many believe that this drawing was in preparation for that of Raphael’s fresco, The Fire in the Borgo. Although these red chalk drawings were never intended to be the final product of Raphael’s works, there have been various exhibits that display only his drawings. I think there is something beautiful about seeing the process behind the Raphael paintings.

  • Birth on Good Friday
Raphael's artwork of renaissance "Birth On Good Friday"

There is not much information that has withstood the test of time surrounding this particular drawing. “Birth on Good Friday”, unlike Raphael’s many other sketches, did not use red chalk. Rather this sketch was done using black chalk leaving us with a black and white image. Raphael is also remembered to have been born on a Good Friday, so perhaps this drawing drew some inspiration from his birth.

  • Portrait of a Young Woman
Portrait of a Young Woman - Drawing of Raphael

This sketch study, “Portrait of a Young Woman” was created in the year 1504. This drawing was created using pen and ink sketches. Raphael was working in Leonardo’s studio in Florence at the time he created this sketch. This sketch is considered to be that of the Mona Lisa, however not the Mona Lisa that can be found in the Louvre today.

Raphael’s Impact on Art Today

So why do we choose to hold onto and remember some of the Raphael most famous painting pieces to this day? What is it about the work of Raphael Sanzio which has been and continues to be inspiring to all artists who see and study his work? Well, Raphael was always ahead of his time in his technique. Becoming orphaned at age eleven, Raphael was forced to grow up at quite a ripe age. Holding onto everything Raphael gained artistically from his father, Raphael continued to push himself to new limits. Michelangelo was considered to be Raphael’s contemporary. Raphael is thought to have gone beyond the talents of Michelangelo.

Creating works with more depth and more fine details, Raphael’s works of art took people by surprise. Many people wanted to commission Raphael to create paintings for significant spaces during the short time he spent with them. Raphael Sanzio also had a large impact on Roman Art. When Raphael died, the memory of him certainly did not.

Some consider Raphael Sanzio to be the greatest designer of the Renaissance period. The more research you do on Raphael Sanzio, the more inspired you will become by his incredible passion and talent. It is clear, simply by looking at his many works, that Raphael was an artist through and through. His art was more than his passion, it was his life in its entirety.

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