Biography of Raphael 1483-1520

On 28 Mar 1483, possibly 06 Apr 1483, Raphael was born. His full name Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino.

On 06 Apr 1520 Raphael (age 37) died.

Evelyn's Diary. 18 Jan 1645. I went to see the Pope's Palace, the Vatican, where he for the most part keeps his Court. It was first built by Pope Symmachus, and since augmented to a vast pile of building by his successors. That part of it added by Sextus V. is most magnificent. This leads us into divers terraces arched sub dio, painted by Raphael with the histories of the Bible, so esteemed, that artists come from all parts of Europe to make their studies from these designs. The foliage and grotesque about some of the compartments are admirable. In another room are represented at large, maps and plots of most countries in the world, in vast tables, with brief descriptions. The stairs which ascend out of St. Peter's portico into the first hall, are rarely contrived for ease; these lead into the hall of Gregory XIII., the walls whereof, half way to the roof, are incrusted with most precious marbles of various colors and works. So is also the pavement inlaid work; but what exceeds description is, the volta, or roof itself, which is so exquisitely painted, that it is almost impossible for the skillfullest eyes to discern whether it be the work of the pencil upon a flat, or of a tool cut deep in stone. The Rota dentata, in this admirable perspective, on the left hand as one goes out, the Setella, etc., are things of art incomparable. Certainly this is one of the most superb and royal apartments in the world, much too beautiful for a guard of gigantic Switzers, who do nothing but drink and play at cards in it. Going up these stairs is a painting of St. Peter, walking on the sea toward our Savior.

Evelyn's Diary. 07 Feb 1645. In the afternoon, we ferried over to Transtevere, to the palace of Gichi, to review the works of Raphael: and, returning by St. Angelo, we saw the castle as far as was permitted, and on the other side considered those admirable pilasters supposed to be of the foundation of the Pons Sublicius, over which Horatius Cocles passed; here anchor three or four water mills, invented by Belizarius: and thence had another sight of the Farnesi's gardens, and of the terrace where is that admirable painting of Raphael, being a Cupid playing with a Dolphin, wrought á fresco, preserved in shutters of wainscot, as well it merits, being certainly one of the most wonderful pieces of work in the world.

Evelyn's Diary. 21 Feb 1645. Entering the church, we admire the fabric, wholly covered with one cupola, seemingly suspended in the air, and receiving light by a hole in the middle only. The structure is near as high as broad, viz, 144 feet, not counting the thickness of the walls, which is twenty-two more to the top, all of white marble; and, till Urban VIII. converted part of the metal into ordnance of war against the Duke of Parma, and part to make the high altar in St. Peter's, it was all over covered with Corinthian brass, ascending by forty degrees within the roof, or convex, of the cupola, richly carved in octagons in the stone. There are niches in the walls, in which stood heretofore the statues of Jupiter and the other Gods and Goddesses; for here was that Venus which had hung in her ear the other Union28 that Cleopatra was about to dissolve and drink up, as she had done its fellow. There are several of these niches, one above another for the celestial, terrestrial, and subterranean deities; but the place is now converted into a church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and all the Saints. The pavement is excellent, and the vast folding-gates, of Corinthian brass. In a word, it is of all the Roman antiquities the most worthy of notice. There lie interred in this Temple the famous Raphael di Urbino, Perino del Vaga, F. Zuccharo, and other painters.

Evelyn's Diary. 23 Feb 1645. I went to hear a sermon at St. Giacomo degli Incurabili, a fair church built by F. da Volterra, of good architecture, and so is the hospital, where only desperate patients are brought. I passed the evening at St. Maria del Popolo, heretofore Nero's sepulchre, where his ashes lay many years in a marble chest. To this church joins the monastery of St. Augustine, which has pretty gardens on Mons Pincius, and in the church is the miraculous shrine of the Madonna which Pope Paul III. brought barefooted to the place, supplicating for a victory over the Turks in 1464. In a chapel of the Ghisi, are some rare paintings of Raphael, and noble sculptures. Those two in the choir are by Sansovino, and in the Chapel de Cerasii, a piece of Caravaggio. Here lie buried many great scholars and artists, of which I took notice of this inscription:

Evelyn's Diary. 21 May 1645. Signor Gaddi is a lettered person, and has divers rarities, statues, and pictures of the best masters, and one bust of marble as much esteemed as the most antique in Italy, and many curious manuscripts; his best paintings are, a Virgin of del Sarto, mentioned by Vassari, a St. John, by Raphael, and an Ecce Homo, by Titian.

Evelyn's Diary. 21 May 1645. In the church of St. John is a fine piece of St. Cecilia, by Raphael. As to other paintings, there is in the church of St. Gregory an excellent picture of a Bishop giving the habit of St. Bernard to an armed soldier, with several other figures in the piece, the work of Guerchino. Indeed, this city is full of rare pieces, especially of Guido Domenico, and a virgin named Isabella Sirani, now living, who has painted many excellent pieces, and imitates Guido so well, that many skillful artists have been deceived.

Evelyn's Diary. 21 May 1645. After dinner I inquired out a priest and Dr. Montalbano, to whom I brought recommendations from Rome: this learned person invented, or found out, the composition of the lapis illuminabilis, or phosphorus. He showed me their property (for he had several), being to retain the light of the sun for some competent time, by a kind of imbibition, by a particular way of calcination. Some of these presented a blue color, like the flame of brimstone, others like coals of a kitchen fire. The rest of the afternoon was taken up in St. Michael in Bosco, built on a steep hill on the edge of the city, for its fabric, pleasant shade and groves, cellars, dormitory, and prospects, one of the most delicious retirements I ever saw; art and nature contending which shall exceed; so as till now I never envied the life of a friar. The whole town and country to a vast extent are under command of their eyes, almost as far as Venice itself. In this convent there are many excellent paintings of Guido Reni; above all, the little cloister of eight faces, painted by Caracci in fresco. The carvings in wood, in the sacristy, are admirable, as is the inlaid work about the chapel, which even emulates the best paintings; the work is so delicate and tender. The paintings of the Savior are of Caracci and Leonardo, and there are excellent things of Raphael which we could not see.

Evelyn's Diary. 21 May 1645. We dined at Sienna, where we could not pass admiring the great church built entirely both within and without with white and black marble in polished squares, by Macarino, showing so beautiful after a shower has fallen. The floor within is of various colored marbles, representing the story of both Testaments, admirably wrought. Here lies Pius II The bibliotéca is painted by P. Perrugino and Raphael. The life of Æneas Sylvius is in FRESCO; in the middle are the Three Graces, in antique marble, very curious, and the front of this building, though Gothic, is yet very fine. Among other things, they show St. Catharine's disciplining cell, the door whereof is half cut out into chips by the pilgrims and devotees, being of deal wood.

Evelyn's Diary. 21 May 1645. We took our farewell of St. Laurence, more particularly noticing that piece of the Resurrection, which consists of a prodigious number of naked figures, the work of Pontormo. On the left hand is the Martyrdom of St. Laurence, by Bronzino, rarely painted indeed. In a chapel is the tomb of Pietro di Medici, and his brother John, of copper, excellently designed, standing on two lions' feet, which end in foliage, the work of M. Angelo. Over against this, are sepulchres of all the ducal family. The altar has a statue of the Virgin giving suck, and two Apostles. Paulus Jovius has the honor to be buried in the cloister. Behind the choir is the superb chapel of Ferdinand I., consisting of eight faces, four plain, four a little hollowed; in the other are to be the sepulchres, and a niche of paragon, for the statue of the prince now living, all of copper gilt; above, is a large table of porphyry, for an inscription for the Duke, in letters of jasper. The whole chapel, walls, pavement, and roof, are full of precious stones united with the moldings, which are also of gilded copper, and so are the bases and capitals of the columns. The tabernacle, with the whole altar, is inlaid with cornelians, lazuli, serpentine, agates, onyxes, etc. On the other side are six very large columns of rock crystal, eight figures of precious stones of several colors, inlaid in natural figures, not inferior to the best paintings, among which are many pearls, diamonds, amethysts, topazes, sumptuous and sparkling beyond description. The windows without side are of white marble. The library is the architecture of Raphael; before the port is a square vestibule of excellent art, of all the orders, without confusion; the ascent to it from the library is excellent. We numbered eighty-eight shelves, all MSS. and bound in red, chained; in all about 3,500 volumes, as they told us.

Evelyn's Diary. 23 Mar 1646. Dr. Cortone, a civilian, showed us, among other rarities, a St. Dorothea, of Raphael. We could not see the rare drawings, especially of Parmensis, belonging to Dr. Marcello, another advocate, on account of his absence.

Evelyn's Diary. 21 Jun 1650. He led us into a stately chamber furnished to have entertained a prince, with pictures of the greatest masters, especially a Venus of Perino del Vaga; the Putti carved in the chimney-piece by the Fleming; the vases of porcelain, and many designed by Raphael; some paintings of Poussin, and Fioravanti; antiques in brass; the looking-glass and stands rarely carved. In a word, all was great, choice, and magnificent, and not to be passed by as I had often done, without the least suspicion that there were such rare things to be seen in that place. At a future visit, he showed a new grotto and a bathing place, hewn through the battlements of the arches of Pont Neuf into a wide vault at the intercolumniation, so that the coaches and horses thundered over our heads.

Evelyn's Diary. 01 Aug 1652. Came old Jerome Lennier, of Greenwich, a man skilled in painting and music, and another rare musician, called Mell. I went to see his collection of pictures, especially those of Julio Romano, which surely had been the King's (age 22), and an Egyptian figure, etc. There were also excellent things of Polydore, Guido, Raphael, and Tintoretto. Lennier had been a domestic of Queen Elizabeth, and showed me her head, an intaglio in a rare sardonyx, cut by a famous Italian, which he assured me was exceedingly like her.

Evelyn's Diary. 01 Nov 1660. I went with some of my relations to Court, to show them his Majesty's (age 30) cabinet and closet of rarities; the rare miniatures of Peter Oliver, after Raphael, Titian, and other masters, which I infinitely esteem; also, that large piece of the Duchess of Lennox (age 13), done in enamel, by Petitot, and a vast number of agates, onyxes, and intaglios, especially a medallion of Cæsar, as broad as my hand; likewise, rare cabinets of pietra-commessa, a landscape of needlework, formerly presented by the Dutch to King Charles I. Here I saw a vast book of maps, in a volume near four yards large; a curious ship model; and, among the clocks, one that showed the rising and setting of the sun in the zodiac; the sun represented by a face and rays of gold, upon an azure sky, observing the diurnal and annual motion, rising and setting behind a landscape of hills,-the work of our famous Fromantil,-and several other rarities.

Evelyn's Diary. 11 May 1661. my wife (age 26) presented to his Majesty (age 30) the Madonna she had copied in miniature from P. Oliver's painting, after Raphael, which she wrought with extraordinary pains and judgment. the King (age 30) was infinitely pleased with it, and caused it to be placed in his cabinet among his best paintings.

Evelyn's Diary. 09 Jun 1662. Hampton Court [Map] is as noble and uniform a pile, and as capacious as any Gothic architecture can have made it. There is an incomparable furniture in it, especially hangings designed by Raphael, very rich with gold; also many rare pictures, especially the Cæsarean Triumphs of Andrea Mantegna, formerly the Duke of Mantua's; of the tapestries, I believe the world can show nothing nobler of the kind than the stories of Abraham and Tobit. The gallery of horns is very particular for the vast beams of stags, elks, antelopes, etc. The Queen's bed was an embroidery of silver on crimson velvet, and cost £8,000, being a present made by the States of Holland when his Majesty (age 32) returned, and had formerly been given by them to our King's sister, the Princess of Orange, and, being bought of her again, was now presented to the King (age 32). The great looking-glass and toilet, of beaten and massive gold, was given by the Queen-Mother (age 52). The Queen (age 23) brought over with her from Portugal such Indian cabinets as had never before been seen here. The great hall is a most magnificent room. The chapel roof excellently fretted and gilt. I was also curious to visit the wardrobe and tents, and other furniture of state. The park, formerly a flat and naked piece of ground, now planted with sweet rows of lime trees; and the canal for water now near perfected; also the air-park. In the garden is a rich and noble fountain, with Sirens, statues, etc., cast in copper, by Fanelli; but no plenty of water. The cradle-work of horn beam in the garden is, for the perplexed twining of the trees, very observable. There is a parterre which they call Paradise, in which is a pretty banqueting-house set over a cave, or cellar. All these gardens might be exceedingly improved, as being too narrow for such a palace.

Evelyn's Diary. 16 Nov 1676. My son (age 21) and I dining at my Lord Chamberlain's (age 58), he showed us among others that incomparable piece of Raphael's, being a Minister of State dictating to Guicciardini, the earnestness of whose face looking up in expectation of what he was next to write, is so to the life, and so natural, as I esteem it one of the choicest pieces of that admirable artist. There was a woman's head of Leonardo da Vinci; a Madonna of old Palma, and two of Vandyke's, of which one was his own picture at length, when young, in a leaning posture; the other, an eunuch, singing. Rare pieces indeed!

Evelyn's Diary. 02 Sep 1680. There are besides many pompous volumes, some embossed with gold, and intaglios on agates, medals, etc. I spent three or four entire days, locked up, and alone, among these books and curiosities. In the rest of the private lodgings contiguous to this, are divers of the best pictures of the great masters, Raphael, Titian, etc., and in my esteem, above all, the "Noli me tangere" of our blessed Savior to Mary Magdalen after his Resurrection, of Hans Holbein; than which I never saw so much reverence and kind of heavenly astonishment expressed in a picture.

Evelyn's Diary. 09 May 1683. Dined at Sir Gabriel Sylvius's and thence to visit the Duke of Norfolk (age 54), to ask whether he would part with any of his cartoons and other drawings of Raphael, and the great masters; he told me if he might sell them all together he would, but that the late Sir Peter Lely (our famous painter) had gotten some of his best. The person who desired me to treat for them was Vander Douse, grandson to that great scholar, contemporary and friend of Joseph Scaliger.

Evelyn's Diary. 23 Apr 1696. I went to Eton [Map], and dined with Dr. Godolphin, the provost. The schoolmaster assured me there had not been for twenty years a more pregnant youth in that place than my grandson (age 14). I went to see the King's House at Kensington. It is very noble, though not great. The gallery furnished with the best pictures [from] all the houses, of Titian, Raphael, Correggio, Holbein, Julio Romano, Bassan, Vandyke, Tintoretto, and others; a great collection of porcelain; and a pretty private library. The gardens about it very delicious.

Evelyn's Diary. Hence, we went to the Palace of the Archbishop, which is a quadrangle, the architecture of Theobaldi, who designed much for Philip II in the Escurial, and has built much in Milan. Hence, into the Governor's Palace, who was Constable of Castile. Tempted by the glorious tapestries and pictures, I adventured so far alone, that peeping into a chamber where the great man was under the barber's hands, he sent one of his negroes (a slave) to know what I was. I made the best excuse I could, and that I was only admiring the pictures, which he returning and telling his lord, I heard the Governor reply that I was a spy; on which I retired with all the speed I could, passed the guard of Swiss, got into the street, and in a moment to my company, who were gone to the Jesuits' Church, which in truth is a noble structure, the front especially, after the modern. After dinner, we were conducted to St. Celso, a church of rare architecture, built by Bramante; the carvings of the marble facciata are by Annibal Fontana, whom they esteem at Milan equal to the best of the ancients. In a room joining to the church, is a marble Madonna, like a Colosse, of the same sculptor's work, which they will not expose to the air. There are two sacristias, in one of which is a fine Virgin, of Leonardo da Vinci; in the other is one of Raphael d'Urbino, a piece which all the world admires. The Sacristan showed us a world of rich plate, jewels, and embroidered copes, which are kept in presses.