History Biography Geography Science Games

Art History and Artists


Biography >> Art History


Where did Raphael grow up?

Raphael was born in the Renaissance Italian city-state of Urbino in central Italy. Urbino was considered one of the cultural centers of Italy and a place where artists flourished. His father, Giovanni, was a painter and poet for the local Duke. As a young boy, Raphael learned the basics of painting from his father.

When Raphael was just eleven years old his father died. Over the next several years, Raphael honed his skill as an artist. Working out of his father's workshop, he gained a reputation as one of the most skilled artists in Urbino.

Training to be an Artist

When Raphael turned seventeen he moved to the city of Perugia, where he worked with a famous artist named Pietro Perugino for four years. He continued to improve his painting, learning from Perugino, but also developing his own style. In 1504, Raphael moved to Florence. He was now considered a master painter and took on commissions from various patrons including the church.

Raphael studied the works of the great masters such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. He absorbed a lot of their style and techniques, but maintained his own unique style. Raphael was considered a friendly and social artist. People liked him and enjoyed his company.

Painting for the Pope

By 1508 Raphael's fame had spread to Rome. He was invited to decorate some of the rooms (called "stanze") in the Vatican by Pope Julius II. It was here that Raphael painted his greatest work The School of Athens. By the time he had completed the rooms, he was considered one of the great artists of Italy.

Raphael's paintings were known for their range, variety, grace, strength, and dignity. One art critic said that his work was "more lifelike than life itself." His artwork is often cited as the perfect example of classical art and the High Renaissance. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest painters of all time.


The School of Athens

The School of Athens by Rafael
Click picture to enlarge

The School of Athens is a fresco painted by Raphael between 1510 and 1511. It was painted on the wall of the library in the palace at the Vatican. The painting shows many of the philosophers of Ancient Greece including Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Pythagoras, and Euclid.

The Sistine Madonna

The Sistine Madonna by Raphael
Click picture to enlarge

The Sistine Madonna is an oil painting by Raphael from 1513. Raphael was famous for his many paintings of the Madonna which he depicted in different moods and sizes. Today, the most famous part of the painting is the two angels, or cherubim, at the bottom. These angels have been featured on modern day stamps, t-shirts, postcards, and more.

Portrait of Pope Julius II

Click picture to enlarge

Rafael also painted many portraits. This painting of Pope Julius II was very unique at the time as it showed the pope from the side and in a pondering mood. It became the model for future portraits of the pope.

The Transfiguration

Click picture to enlarge

Raphael began painting The Transfiguration in 1517. It was Raphael's largest painting on canvas and one of the last paintings he finished before his death.


Raphael was also an accomplished architect. He became the pope's chief architect in 1514. He did some work on the design of St. Peter's Basilica and worked on other religious buildings such as the Chigi Chapel in Rome.

Interesting Facts about Raphael Activities

  • Listen to a recorded reading of this page:

  • Movements Ancient Art Artists Art Terms and Timeline

    Works Cited

    Biography >> Art History

    Ducksters Footer Gif with Ducks

    About Ducksters Privacy Policy 


    This site is a product of TSI (Technological Solutions, Inc.), Copyright 2024, All Rights Reserved. By using this site you agree to the Terms of Use.