The character and the influence of Raphael are well expressed in the following sentences with which Vasari concludes his biography:—"O happy and blessed spirit! every one speaks with interest of thee; celebrates thy deeds; admires thee in thy works! Well might Painting die when this noble artist ceased to live; for when his eyes were closed she remained in darkness. For us who survive him it remains to imitate the excellent method which he has left for our guidance; and as his great qualities deserve, and our duty bids us, to cherish his memory in our hearts, and keep it alive in our discourse by speaking of him with the high respect which is his due. For through him we have the art in all its extent carried to a perfection which could hardly have been looked for; and in this universality let no human being ever hope to surpass him. And, beside this benefit which he conferred on Art as her true friend, he neglected not to show us how every man should conduct himself in all the relations of life. Among his rare gifts there is one which especially excites my wonder; I mean, that Heaven should have granted him to infuse a spirit among those who lived around him so contrary to that which is prevalent among professional men. The painters—I do not allude to the humble-minded only, but to those of an ambitious turn, and many of this sort there are—the painters who worked in company with Raphael lived in perfect harmony, as if all bad feelings were extinguished in his presence, and every base, unworthy thought had passed from their minds. This was because the artists were at once subdued by his obliging manners and by his surpassing merit, but more than all by the spell of his natural character, which was so full of affectionate kindness, that not only men, but even the very brutes, respected him. He always had a great number of artists employed for him, helping them and teaching them with the kindness of a father to his children, rather than as a master directing his scholars. For which reason it was observed he never went to court without being accompanied from his very door by perhaps fifty painters who took pleasure in thus attending him to do him honour. In short, he lived more as a sovereign than as a painter. And thus, O Art of Painting! thou too, then, could account thyself most happy, since an artist was thine, who, by his skill and by his moral excellence exalted thee to the highest heaven!"

Raphael was the son of Giovanni Sanzio, or di Santi, of Urbino. He received his first education as an artist from his father, whom, however, he lost in his eleventh year. As early as 1495 probably, he entered the school of Pietro Perugino, at Perugia, where he remained till about his twentieth year.

The "Umbrian School," in which Raphael received his first education, and in which he is accordingly placed, is distinguished from the Florentine, of which it may be said to have been an offshoot, by several well-defined characteristics. Chief of these are, first, the more sentimental expression of religious feeling, and second, the greater attention paid to distance as compared with the principal figures; both of which are explainable on the ground of local circumstances. They reflect the difference between the bustling intellectual activity of Florence and the dreamy existence but broader horizon of the dwellers in the upper valley of the Tiber. In the beautiful Nativity of Piero della Francesca (No. 908 in the National Gallery) we see something akin to the Florentine pictures, and yet something more besides. Piero shared with Paolo Uccello the eager desire to discover the secrets of perspective; but in addition he seems to have been influenced by the study of nature herself, in the open air, as Uccello never was. His pupil, Luca Signorelli (1441-1523), was more formal and less naturalistic, as may be seen by a comparison between the Circumcision (No. 1128 in the National Gallery) and Piero's Baptism of Christ on the opposite wall. Pietro Perugino (1446-1523)—his real name was Vannucci—was influenced both by Signorelli and by Verrocchio. In the studio of the latter he had probably worked with Leonardo and Lorenzo di Credi, so that in estimating the influences which went to form the art of Raphael we need not insist too strongly on the distinction between "Umbrian" and "Florentine."

Raphael's first independent works (about 1500) are entirely in Perugino's style. They bear the general stamp of the Umbrian School, but in its highest beauty. His youthful efforts are essentially youthful, and seem to contain the earnest of a high development. Two are in the Berlin Museum. In the one (No. 141) called the Madonna Solly, the Madonna reads in a book; the Child on her lap holds a goldfinch. The other (No. 145), with heads of S. Francis and S. Jerome, is better. Similar to it, but much more finished and developed, is a small round picture, the Madonna Casa Connestabile, now at St. Petersburg.

A more important picture of this time is the Coronation of the Virgin, painted for the church of S. Francesco at Perugia in 1503, but now in the Vatican. In the upper part, Christ and the Madonna are throned on clouds and surrounded by angels with musical instruments; underneath, the disciples stand around the empty tomb. In this lower part of the picture there is a very evident attempt to give the figures more life, motion, and enthusiastic expression than was before attempted in the school.

After this, Raphael appears to have quitted the school of Perugino, and to have commenced an independent career: he executed at this time some pictures in the neighbouring town of Città di Castello. With all the features of the Umbrian School, they already show the freer impulse of his own mind,—a decided effort to individualize. The most excellent of these, and the most interesting example of this first period of Raphael's development, is the Marriage of the Virgin (Lo Sposalizio), inscribed with his name and the date 1504, now in the Brera at Milan. With much of the stiffness and constraint of the old school, the figures are noble and dignified; the countenances, of the sweetest style of beauty, are expressive of a tender, enthusiastic melancholy, which lends a peculiar charm to this subject.

In 1504 Raphael painted the two little pictures in the Louvre, S. George and S. Michael (Nos. 1501-2) for the Duke of Urbino. The Knight Dreaming, a small picture, now in the National Gallery (No. 213), is supposed to have been painted a year earlier.

In the autumn of 1504 Raphael went to Florence. Tuscan art had now attained its highest perfection, and the most celebrated artists were there contending for the palm. From this period begins his emancipation

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from the confined manner of Perugino's school; the youth ripens into manhood and acquires the free mastery of form.

To this time belong the celebrated Madonna del Granduca, now in the Pitti Gallery, and another formerly belonging to the Duke of Terra Nuova, and now at Berlin (No. 247a). In the next year we find him employed on several large works in Perugia; these show for the first time the influence of Florentine art in the purity, fullness, and intelligent treatment of form; at the same time many of the motives of the Peruginesque school are still apparent. The famous Cowper Madonna, recently sold to an American for £140,000, also belongs to the year 1505, when the blending of the two influences resulted in a picture which has been extolled by the sanest of critics as "the loveliest of Raphael's Virgins." An altar-piece, executed for the church of the Serviti at Perugia, inscribed with the date 1506, is the famous Madonna dei Ansidei, purchased for the National Gallery from the Duke of Marlborough. Besides the dreamy religious feeling of the School of Perugia, we perceive here the aim at a greater freedom, founded on deeper study.

Raphael was soon back in Florence, where he remained until 1508. The early paintings of this period betray, as might be expected, many reminiscences of the Peruginesque school, both in conception and execution; the later ones follow in all essential respects the general style of the Florentines.

One of the earliest is the Virgin in the Meadow, in the Belvedere Gallery at Vienna. Two others show a close affinity with this composition; one is the Madonna del Cardellino, in the Tribune of the Uffizi, in which S. John presents a goldfinch to the infant Christ. The other is the so-called Belle Jardinière, inscribed 1507, in the Louvre.

It is interesting to observe Raphael's progress in the smaller pictures which he painted in Florence—half-figures of the Madonna and Child. Here again the earliest are characterised by the tenderest feeling, while a freer and more cheerful enjoyment of life is apparent in the later ones. The Madonna della Casa Tempi, at Munich, is the first of this series. In the picture from the Colonna Palace at Rome, now in the Berlin Museum (No. 248), the same childlike sportiveness, the same maternal tenderness, are developed with more harmonious refinement. A larger picture, belonging to the middle time of his Florentine period, is in the Munich Gallery—the Madonna Canignani, which presents a peculiar study of artificial grouping, in a pyramidal shape. Among the best pictures of the latter part of this Florentine period are the S. Catherine, now in the National Gallery, formerly in the Aldobrandini Gallery at Rome, and two large altar-pieces. One of these is the Madonna del Baldacchino, in the Pitti Gallery. The other, The Entombment, painted for the church of S. Francesco at Perugia, is now in the Borghese Gallery at Rome. This is the first of Raphael's compositions in which an historical subject is dramatically developed; but in this respect the task exceeded his powers. The composition lacks repose and unity of effect; the movements are exaggerated and mannered; but the figure of the Saviour is extremely beautiful, and may be placed among the greatest of the master's creations.

About the middle of the year 1508, when only in his twenty-fifth year, Raphael was invited by Pope

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Louvre, Paris

Julius II. to decorate the state apartments in the Vatican. With these works commences the third period of his development, and in these he reached his highest perfection. The subjects, more important than any in which he had hitherto been occupied, gave full scope to his powers; and the proximity of Michelangelo, who at this time began the painting of the Sistine Chapel, excited his emulation.

At this period, just before the Reformation, the Papal power had reached its proudest elevation. To glorify this power—to represent Rome as the centre of spiritual culture—were the objects of the paintings in the Vatican. They cover the ceilings and walls of three chambers and a large saloon, which now bear the name of the "Stanze of Raphael."

The execution of these paintings principally occupied Raphael to the time of his death, and were only completed by his scholars.

In 1513 and 1514 Raphael also executed designs for the ten tapestries intended to adorn the Sistine Chapel, representing events from the lives of the apostles. Seven of these magnificent cartoons are now in the South Kensington Museum.

Beside these important commissions executed for the Papal court, during twelve years, many claims were made on him by private persons. Two frescoes executed for Roman churches may be mentioned. One, in S. Maria della Pace, represents four Sibyls surrounded by angels, which it is interesting to compare with the Sibyls of Michelangelo. In each we find the peculiar excellence of the two great masters; Michelangelo's figures are grand, sublime, profound, while the fresco of the Pace exhibits Raphael's serene and ingenious grace. In a second fresco, the prophet Isaiah and two angels, in the church of S. Agostino at Rome, the comparison is less favourable to Raphael, the effort to rival the powerful style of Michelangelo being rather too obvious.

Like all other artists, Raphael is at his best when, undisturbed by outside influences, he follows the free original impulse of his own mind. His peculiar element was grace and beauty of form, in so far as these are the expression of high moral purity.

The following works of his third period are especially deserving of mention.

The Aldobrandini Madonna, now in the National Gallery—in which the Madonna is sitting on a bench, and bends down to the little S. John, her left arm round him. The Madonna of the Duke of Alba, in the Hermitage at St. Petersburg. La Vierge au voile, in the Louvre; the Madonna is seated in a kneeling position, lifting the veil from the sleeping Child in order to show him to the little S. John. The Madonna della Seggiola, in the Pitti at Florence (painted about 1516), a circular picture. The Madonna della Tenda at Munich; a composition similar to the last, except that the Child is represented in more lively action, and looking upwards.

A series of similar, but in some instances more copious compositions, belong to a still later period; they are in a great measure the work of his scholars, painted after his drawings, and only partly worked upon by Raphael himself. Indeed many pictures of this class should perhaps be considered altogether as the productions of his school, at a time when that school was under his direct superintendence, and when it was enabled to imitate his finer characteristics in a remarkable degree.

In this class are the Madonna dell'Impannata, in the Pitti, which takes its name from the oiled-paper window in the background. The large picture of a Holy Family in the Louvre, painted in 1518, for Francis I., is peculiarly excellent. The whole has a character of cheerfulness and joy: an easy and delicate play of graceful lines, which unite in an intelligible and harmonious whole. Giulio Romano assisted in the execution.

With regard to the large altar-pieces of his later period in which several Saints are assembled round the Madonna, it is to be observed that Raphael has contrived to place them in reciprocal relation to each other, and to establish a connection between them; while the earlier masters either ranged them next to one another in simple symmetrical repose, or disposed them with a view to picturesque effect.

Of these the Madonna di Foligno, in the Vatican, is the earliest. In the upper part of the picture is the Madonna with the Child, enthroned on the clouds in a glory, surrounded by angels. Underneath, on one side, kneels the donor, behind him stands S. Jerome. On the other side is S. Francis, kneeling, while he points with one hand out of the picture to the people, for whom he entreats the protection of the Mother of Grace; behind him is S. John the Baptist, who points to the Madonna, while he looks at the spectator as if inviting him to worship her.

The second, the Madonna del Pesce has much more repose and grandeur as whole, and unites the sublime and abstract character of sacred beings with the individuality of nature in the happiest manner. It is now in Madrid, but was originally painted for S. Domenico at Naples, about 1513. It represents the Madonna and Child on a throne; on one side is S. Jerome; on the other the guardian angel with the young Tobias who carries a fish (whence the name of the picture). The artist has imparted a wonderfully poetic character to the subject. S. Jerome, kneeling on the steps of the throne, has been reading from a book to the Virgin and Child, and appears to have been interrupted by the entrance of Tobias and the Angel. The infant Christ turns towards them, but at the same time lays his hand on the open book, as if to mark the place. The Virgin turns towards the Angel, who introduces Tobias; while the latter dropping on his knees, looks up meekly to the Divine Infant. S. Jerome looks over the book to the new-comers, as if ready to proceed with his occupation after the interruption.

But the most important is the famous Madonna di San Sisto, at Dresden. Here the Madonna appears as the queen of the heavenly host, in a brilliant glory of countless angel-heads, standing on the clouds, with the eternal Son in her arms; S. Sixtus and S. Barbara kneel at the sides. Both of them seem to connect the picture with the real spectators. This is a rare example of a picture of Raphael's later time, executed entirely by his own hand.

Two large altar pictures still claim our attention; they also belong to Raphael's later period. One is the Christ Bearing the Cross, in Madrid, known by the name of Lo Spasimo di Sicilia, from the convent of Santa Maria dello Spasimo at Palermo, for which it was painted. Here, as in the tapestries, we again find a finely conceived development of the event, and an excellent composition. The other is theTransfiguration, now in the Vatican, formerly in S. Pietro at Montorio.

Louvre, Paris

This was the last work of the master (left unfinished at his death); the one which was suspended over his coffin, a trophy of his fame, for public homage.

"I cannot believe myself in Rome," wrote Count Castiglione, on the death of the master, "now that my poor Raphael is no longer here." Men regarded his works with religious veneration as if God had revealed himself through Raphael as in former days through the prophets. His remains were publicly laid out on a splendid catafalque, while his last work, the Transfiguration, was suspended over his head. He was buried in the Pantheon, under an altar adorned by a statue of the Holy Virgin, a consecration offering from Raphael himself. Doubts having been raised as to the precise spot, a search was made in the Pantheon in 1833, and Raphael's bones were found; the situation agreeing exactly with Vasari's description of the place of interment. On the 18th of October, in the same year, the relics were reinterred in the same spot with great solemnities.

The schools of Lombardy and the Emilia, which derive their characteristics from Florentine rather than from Venetian influences, may here be briefly mentioned before turning to the consideration of the Venetian School. In 1482, it will be remembered, Leonardo went to Milan, where he remained till the end of the century; and the extent of his influence may be judged from many of the productions ofBernadino Luini (1475-1532) and Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, known as Sodoma (1477-1549). Of Ambrogio di Predis we have already heard in connection with the painting of our version of Leonardo's Virgin of the Rocks. Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio (1467-1516) was a pupil of Vincenzo Foppa, but he soon abandoned the manner of the old Lombard School, and came under the influence of the great Florentine, of whom he became a most enthusiastic disciple.

More independent—indeed, he is officially characterised as "an isolated phenomenon in Italian Art"—was Antonio Allegri, commonly called Correggio, from the place of his birth. In 1518 he settled at Parma, where he remained till 1530, so that he is usually catalogued as of the School of Parma, which for an isolated phenomenon serves as well as any other. Of late years his popularity has been somewhat diminished by the increasing demands of private collectors for works which are purchasable, and most of Correggio's are in public galleries. At Dresden are some of the most famous, notably the Nativity, called "La Notte," from its wonderful scheme of illumination, and two or three large altar-pieces. The Venus Mercury and Cupid in our National Gallery, though sadly injured, is still one of his masterpieces. It was purchased by Charles I. with the famous collection of the Duke of Mantua. Our Ecce Homo is entitled to rank with it, as is also the little Madonna of the Basket.

National Gallery, London