India International Centre



An online exhibition commemorating the 500th death anniversary of Raphael,
master painter and architect of Italian High Renaissance, one of the most influential and naturally gifted artists in the history of art

The exhibition will remain on view from 15th to 28th June 2020

Raphael, born Raffaello Sanzio, was crowned the "Prince of Painters" by Giorgio Vasari, a sixteenth-century biographer of artists. For centuries Raphael has been recognized as the supreme High Renaissance painter, more versatile than Michelangelo and more prolific than their older contemporary Leonardo da Vinci. Though he died at 37, Raphael’s examples as a paragon of classicism dominated the academic tradition of European painting until the mid-19th century.

An artist of extraordinary refinement and deep feeling, Raphael was trained in the Umbrian style by the master painter Pietro Perugino and became renowned for his jewel-toned artworks distinguished by the almost evanescent delicacy of his figures’ features. Raphael imitated his master closely, and their painting styles are so similar that art historians have found it difficult to determine which were painted by Raphael, and which were by his master. This was the beginning of his career as an absorber of influences. It is said of Raphael that whatever he saw, he took possession of, always growing by what was taught to him.

When he left Perugia for Florence, embraced the recent innovative styles of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. However, although he assimilated the styles of different masters of the time, he continued to pursue his own unique style. From 1500 when he became an independent master to 1508, he worked throughout central Italy, where he became a noted portraitist and painter of Madonnas. In Florence, his many paintings of the Madonna and Child display his characteristic human warmth, serenity, and sublimely perfect figures. Raphael's art epitomized the High Renaissance qualities of harmony and ideal beauty.

In four years Raphael's fame led to summons to Rome from Pope Julius II to help with the redecoration of the papal apartments. As painter to the papal court, his work met with high praise, and he established himself as the most favoured artist in Rome. He was commissioned to paint portraits, devotional subjects, and the Pope's private rooms; he also designed tapestries. Raphael was soon placed in charge of all papal projects involving architecture, paintings, decoration, and the preservation of antiquities.

Raphael’s career falls naturally into three phases and three styles, first described by Vasari: his early years in Umbria, then a period of about four years (1504-1508) absorbing the artistic traditions of Florence, followed by his hectic and triumphant twelve years in Rome, working for two Popes and their close associates.

This exhibition celebrates the artist’s enduring legacy and commemorates his 500th death anniversary.

Please click to view the exhibition