In my last post (“Duke”) I wrote about Urbino and the fabulous Ducal Palace. We had so many photos to share and there was so much to say that I decided to separate 2 other delicious Urbino experiences into their own posts. Once I get going I find it difficult to stop writing; I have not yet learned the bloggers’ rule of short, sharp posts. Perhaps I never will….
One of Urbino’s most famous sons was Raphael who, together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, were surely the 3 greatest masters of Renaissance art.
Raphael’s father, Giovanni Santi, was a well-regarded court painter in Urbino. Born in 1483, Raphael had a privileged upbringing in and around the court at the Ducal Palace. The family home, a smart 15th century building in the centre of the city, is now a museum.
Raphael’s parents both died when he was a child. His father was reasonably wealthy, and had managed to apprentice his son to Perugino, a highly successful painter from Umbria (see earlier posts). Perugino’s influence can be seen in Raphael’s work, although Raphael left for Florence and Rome in his early 20s and broadened his techniques to embrace the earthier styles of the Florentine and Rome masters.
Few traces of the artist remain in Raphael’s house, but it is well worth a visit for its evocative atmosphere.
Giovanni Santi also used the house as his workshop, and the stone on which he mixed his paints can still be seen in the courtyard.
Several of Santi’s paintings are in the National Gallery of Umbria within the Ducal Palace.
In one of the rooms in Raphael’s house is a charming fresco of the Madonna and Child. This had been attributed to Santi, but more recent scholars believe this is an early work by Raphael, due to the use of light in the picture which is evident in his later paintings.
Other than this one (possible) original painting, the museum only has copies of Raphael’s works, but they do illustrate the diversity and talent of this man who died at the young age of 37 but who left a wonderful legacy behind him.