Rome Vatican Treasure Hunt in the Footsteps of Raphael
The big three Italian masters of the Renaissance art were Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael. Raffaello Sanzio, better known simply as Raphael is one of the most famous Italian painters of that period. Raphael achieved his greatest triumph in papal Rome where he created a large body of work, despite his death at just 37. If his frescoed Papal Rooms in the Vatican Museums have only whetted your appetite, follow our treasure hunt around Rome and discover even more masterpieces and curiosities.
Raphael is said to have had many affairs, but a permanent fixture in his life in Rome was La Fornarina. Admire the sensual allure of Raphael’s favorite mistress, the baker’s daughter known as La Fornarina at Palazzo Barberini Rome museum. The band around her arm is inscribed with the artist signature proclaiming to the world that not only the painting, but also the model, was his.
With Caravaggio’s celebrated Madonna di Loreto hanging nearby, it might be easy to overlook the Prophet Isaiah fresco on the central nave of the Basilica of St. Augustine in Campo Marzio, an early Renaissance church in Rome. Once you have spotted it you will be glad you did. It is a recognizable tribute to Michelangelo work in the Sistine Chapel.
The Deposition from the Cross at the Borghese Gallery may just be Raphael’s most moving artwork, capturing a moment of collective grief and suffering on the part of the mourners. This oil painting presents the scene like a Roman relief and shows Christ being carried from the cross.
In The Triumph of Galatea at Villa Farnesina, one of Raphael’s few pagan inspired works the artist represents ideal beauty. The fresco is a mythological scene where the fair sea-nymph Galatea appears surrounded by other sea creatures. When he had finished the ‘Galatea’, Raphael was asked by an aristocrat where he had found a model of such beauty. He replied that he did not copy any specific model but rather followed a certain idea he had formed in his mind. He purposely used an imagined type of regular beauty.
By now you know and love Raphael paintings but did you know he designed mosaics as well? Only once in the chapel of Santa Maria della Pace church in Piazza del Popolo located in one of the most famous squares in Rome. The mosaics of the Chapel are the only known mosaic works of Raphael, and extraordinary examples of High Renaissance mosaic art. The glittering panels of the Creation of the World depict personifications of the known six planets, the zodiac signs and God in the heavens. The mosaic is somewhat resembling to Michelangelo’s famous fresco in the Sistine Chapel, the Creation which was painted only five years before the mosaics of Raphael, and certainly gave inspiration for the artist.
To honor the legendary artist memory, visit his tomb at the Pantheon. The famous Renaissance master died in 1520 and was interred there. Explore this fascinating period of the Italian Renaissance with Nancy Aiello. Our private Italy tours are led by licensed professional local tour guides who are also archeologists and/or art historians. Their hands-on experience and knowledge of the sites you visit really enhances the cultural context of the visit.
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Nancy Aiello Tours specializes in Italy family travel. Family travel is about exploring inspiring places in a way that is accessible to all members of the family. Feel free to share your favorite Italy travel suggestions here! New articles are published weekly, sometimes daily.
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