The School of Athens

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About the Artist

Born as the Italian Renaissance flourished, extolling its classical ideals of humanism and revolutionizing art, Raphael Sanzio was destined to the join the ranks of the immortals. Regarded, along with Michelangelo and Leonardo, as one of the three giants of Italian Renaissance art, his art embodied the classical ideals of the High Renaissance style. Born in Urbino, Raphael received his earliest training from his father, a provincial court painter. In his early career, Raphael worked in Florence concentrating on religious subjects rendered in a graceful, restrained style. At 26, he arrived in Rome and began working for Pope Julius II, pursuant to a commission to decorate the papal apartments. During this period, the artist expanded his repertoire to include portraits and mythological subjects. While the influence of Leonardo and Michelangelo is evident in his compositions, Raphael developed his own unique style that has retained a timeless, universal appeal. More socially adept than his counterparts, Raphael enjoyed the patronage of leading political and social figures of the period. Although best known for his numerous Madonnas, Raphael's remarkable talent extended beyond painting, allowing him to achieve considerable success in architecture and tapestry design.