Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, known as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form, ease of composition, and visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period.
Raphael was enormously productive, running an unusually large workshop and, despite his early death at 37, leaving a large body of work. Many of his works are found in the Vatican Palace, where the frescoed Raphael Rooms were the central, and the largest, work of his career. The best known work is The School of Athens in the Vatican Stanza della Segnatura. After his early years in Rome, much of his work was executed by his workshop from his drawings, with considerable loss of quality. He was extremely influential in his lifetime, though outside Rome his work was mostly known from his collaborative printmaking.
After his death, the influence of his great rival Michelangelo was more widespread until the 18th and 19th centuries, when Raphael's more serene and harmonious qualities were again regarded as the highest models. His career falls naturally into three phases and three styles, first described by Giorgio Vasari: his early years in Umbria, then a period of about four years (1504–1508) absorbing the artistic traditions of Florence, followed by his last hectic and triumphant twelve years in Rome, working for two Popes and their close associates.
His father was court painter to the ruler of the small but highly cultured city of Urbino. He died when Raphael was eleven, and Raphael seems to have played a role in managing the family workshop from this point. He trained in the workshop of Perugino, and was described as a fully trained "master" by 1500. He worked in or for several cities in north Italy until in 1508 he moved to Rome at the invitation of the pope, to work on the Vatican Palace. He was given a series of important commissions there and elsewhere in the city, and began to work as an architect. He was still at the height of his powers at his death in 1520.