2020 is the year of Raphael, the Renaissance master

2020 is the year of another Renaissance master, Raphael, as it marks the 500th anniversary of his death.

The artist Raffaello Sanzio—better known as Raphael—is one of the most famous masters of the High Renaissance style in Italy. Born in Urbino in 1483, he died when he was only 37, on April 6th, 1520, in Rome, where he spent the last decade of his life.

2020 marks the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death, and, similar to museum exhibitions and celebrations surrounding Leonardo da Vinci’s anniversary in 2019, Raphael's artwork will be featured widely all around Italy.

Not many artists have been as widely admired as Raphael. His work is celebrated as the pinnacle of Italian Renaissance art along with his contemporaries, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti.

Raphael was already famous during his short lifetime for his portraits, his idyllic Madonnas, and his fresco cycles in the papal palace.

His life

The painter produced a large volume of works in his short lived 37 years. He joined painter Pietro Perugino’s workshop in Perugia as a child to work as Perugino’s assistant, and became a fully trained master artist in 1500. Though Raphael traveled throughout northern Italy as a young adult, his time spent in Florence influenced him significantly. At the time of his arrival in the Tuscan city, Michelangelo Buonarotti had just unveiled his earth-shattering David to the Florentine public. At the same time, da Vinci was just completing the Mona Lisa. The streets were filled with the likes of Sandro Botticelli and many other famous painters. Thanks to his connections, his likeability, and talent, Raphael managed to work his way into the good graces of several of the city’s important families. He painted several commissioned portraits and also began a series of idealized Madonnas and learned techniques from studying da Leonardo Da Vinci’s works.

Raphael moved to Rome in 1508 at the behest of Pope Julius II to produce commissioned works for the Vatican. He painted a series of frescoed walls in the papal palace, including the so-called Triumph of Religion and the School of Athens in the Stanza della Segnatura, between 1509 and 1511. The pope made Raphael the Vatican’s chief architect after the death of Donato Bramante in 1514.

He died in Rome on April 6, 1520: his funeral was attended by many people and today, his tomb remains inside Rome’s Pantheon.

Raphael was influenced widely western art: his style led to the birth of the classicism of the 17th century by Rubens, Velázquez and Caravaggio; he inspired Delacroix and Ingres, the Nazarenes and Pre-Raphaelites movements, conditioning even Manet and Dalí.

Raphael was influenced widely western art: his style led to the birth of the classicism of the 17th century by Rubens, Velázquez and Caravaggio; he inspired Delacroix and Ingres, the Nazarenes and Pre-Raphaelites movements, conditioning even Manet and Dalí.



Pinacoteca Ambrosiana: In principio il Cartone



La Pinacoteca Ambrosiana houses a newly restored cartoon drawing by Raphael that was the basis for the School of Athens fresco in the Vatican. The 9- by 26-foot charcoal drawing is the largest preserved cartoon from the Renaissance. The cartoon has just undergone a four-year restoration.



Scuderie del Quirnale

March 5-June 2, 2020


This exhibition is the largest and most significant event of the 2020 celebrations. In a collaboration with the Uffizi of Florence, more than 200 works can be seen through June 2. The Scuderie del Quirnale, run by the Italian Ministry of Culture, is an exhibition gallery rather than a museum, and is assembling loaned artwork for this event. The exhibit will include an early self-portrait that Raphael painted in his early twenties, as well as the paired portraits of Agnolo and Maddalena Doni (1504-07) and the Madonna of the Goldfinch (1506).

Raphael’s Tomb


Piazza della Rotonda

While in Rome, you can visit Raphael's tomb in the Pantheon. You will see the words of Cardinal Bembo, a friend of Raphael, inscribed on the tomb: “Here lies Raphael, by whom Nature feared to be outdone while he lived, and when he died, feared that she herself would die.”


Galleria Nazionale delle Marche

RAPHAEL WARE. I colori del Rinascimento

Through April 13, 2020


Showcases 157 refined examples of Renaissance majolica from the biggest private collection in the world, made by artists from Urbino inspired by Raphael’s genius.

Raphael’s house

Casa Santi

You can walk in the footsteps of the Renaissance artist by visiting Raphael's childhood home and art studio. Some scholars believe that a fresco of a Madonna and Child on one of the bedroom walls may be an early work of Raphael.


Through April 6, 2020

This is an initiative to enhance the places and the works that Raphael created during his stay in Umbria.

For more information on events, visit http://www.italia.it/en/travel-ideas/2020-the-year-of-raphael/raphael-500-all-2020-events-dedicated-to-raphael.html

Fantastica Italia can help you book the tickets for most of these events in advance! Contact us so you do not miss this special event!

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