Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio) was born in Urbino in 1483, the son of Giovanni Santi, a painter and poet of the High Renaissance, celebrated for the perfection and grace of his paintings and drawings. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period.
Raphael soon entered the workshop of Pietro Perugino , one of the most renowned painters of the day who was to have a great influence on his formation. In the years between 1500 and 1504 Raphael moved between Perugia, Siena, Orvieto, Venice and perhaps Florence and Rome, studying the works of his contemporaries, and in particular Luca Signorelli and Pinturicchio. From 1504 to 1508 he was in Florence, during the culturally lively years of the republic headed by Soderini, and saw Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci at work on the decoration of the Sala del Maggior Consiglio: the encounter with Florentine art left a pro-found mark on the artistic evolution of the young but already well-known painter. He also obtained important commissions from the city's most prominent families, bolstering his reputation.Raphael’s best known work is The School of Athens in the Vatican Stanza della Segnatura.
In 1508 Pope Julius II called him to Rome to fresco the papal apartments (the Vatican Stanze). Raphael finished the Stanza della Segnatura (Stanza della Segnatura Adam and Eve, Stanza della Segnatura Apollo and Marsyas, Stanza della Segnatura Justice, Stanza della Segnatura Philosophy, Stanza della Segnatura Poetry, Stanza della Segnatura Prime Mover, Stanza della Segnatura The Judgment of Solomon, Stanza della Segnatura Theology. )by 1511, the Stanza di Eliodoro in 1514 and the Stanza dell'Incendio di Borgo in 1517; the Stanza di Costantino was completed in 1520 by his assistants, who had already made a major contribution in the previous room. Over the years he was working on the grand undertaking of the Stanze, Raphael received commissions and posts of great prestige. In 1514 Leo X appointed him architect in charge of the construction of St. Peter's. In 1515 he was commis-sioned to design the cartoons (now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London) for a series of tapestries to be hung in the Sistine Chapel. In 1519, with his pupils and collaborators, he painted the S'cenes from the Old Testament in the Vatican Logge. The hanker Agostino Chigi entrusted him with the decoration of the loggia of his villa (later called the Farnesina) and the family chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo, for which he also designed the architecture. He worked for the most eminent members of the papal court, from Cardinal Bibbiena to Bindo Altoviti and the writer Baldassare Castiglione. Raphael became extremely famous during his lifetime, and was, along with Michelangelo, the most sought-after and highly esteemed artist of his day. Unlike the great Florentine, Raphael quickly surrounded himself with a group of disciples and collaborators (of whom the most talented was Romano Giulio) who permitted him to fulfill the numerous and demanding commissions that he received and who were responsible, through the production of prints, for the diffusion of Raphael's models in Italy and beyond. He died in Rome on April 6, 1520, at the age of just thirty-seven.