Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483-1520), known more simply as Raphael, was a renowned painter and architect of the High Renaissance. Raphael, Michelangelo and  Leonardo da Vinci form the traditional trinity of great masters of the period. Despite his death at the age of 37, Raphael had a large body of work, much of which still remains, including his largest works, frescoes in the Vatican Palace. His career can be divided into three distinct phases. The first was his early years in Umbria, followed by the second, four years in Florence, and ending with twelve years in Rome, where he worked for two Popes. After his initial time in Rome, much of his work was executed by associates in his workshop working from his drawings, resulting in considerable loss of quality. Raphael used drawings extensively to plan his great works, using them to refine poses and composition (1). According to John Shearman, Raphael's art marks "a shift of resources away from production to research and development"(2).
Study of a Sibyl (3)
Red chalk over Stylus, 262 x 167 mm
British Museum, London
Raphael is seen as a great model for history painting, and one of the last painters of "classic art" before the shift to Mannerism and then the Baroque period. His greatest influence was from the late 17th to late 19th centuries, when he was highly admired for his attention to balance and artistic decorum. 

Study for the Three Graces (3)
c. 1518

Red chalk over stylus, 203 x 258 mm
Royal Collection, Windsor
Raphael is most famous for his paintings, and outside of Italy during his lifetime, for his printmaking. But his drawings show the impeccable attention he gave to planning out his great painted works and frescoes. The immense number of his  study drawings that have survived to modern times is a testament to the great number that he created in planning his paintings during his lifetime. His studies show different angles and ideas that came to be realized in his paintings after much reworking and calculation. 
Modello for the Entombment (3)

c. 1507
Pen and ink over stylus and black chalk, 289 x 298 mm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

I chose Raphael for his classical grace in his sketching and for his attention to detail and composition. His architectural tendencies are evident in the structured nature of his drawings as well as his use of chiaroscuro, or strong contrasts between light and dark. 

-Anna LeBleu

(1) Wikipedia: Raphael
(2) Quoted Pon:114, from lecture on The Organization of Raphael's Workshop, pub. Chicago, 1983
(3) Web Gallery of Art. Drawings by Raffaello. 

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