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. . . Florentine master painter Giotto di Bondone (1267 -1337) was also an accomplished architect? In 1334 Giotto's architectural skills were employed when he was put in charge of the building operations of Florence Cathedral for which he painted several panel pieces. The most celebrated piece being Ognisanti Madonna (1305 - 10).

. . . Artist Edgar Degas was so fascinated with ballet dancers that he became obsessed with representing them in his art? It is estimated Degas made approximately 1500 paintings, pastels, prints and drawings of dancers.
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Raphaello Sanzio (Raphael)

The School of Athens Project

The School of Athens - clickable image

    Raphael Sanzio (1483-1520)
Raphael was born Raphaello Sanzio in Urbino. His first painting lessons came from his father. It is said that he then trained with Perugino. His early work supports this theory reflecting the clarity and harmony which is prevalent in the work of Perugino.

Later Raphael worked in Tuscany and Umbria where the work of Leonardo da Vinci - especially compositional devices - influenced his development. Evidence of this can be seen in La Belle Jardiniere (Virgin and Child with the Infant St. John the Baptist) one of a number of paintings completed at this time of The Virgin and the Child.

Pope Julius II summoned Raphael to Rome in 1508 where he was employed to complete the fresco decoration of a number of rooms in the Vatican. The best known of these works is The School of Athens, a majestic piece which glorify's the philosophers of antiquity. Plato and Aristotle are central, joined by Socrates (to Plato's left), Euclid, Pythagoras and Epicurus. Doused in the characteristic serenity and harmony of his style, this piece clearly displays Raphael's maturity and technical skill.

After completing the second room, in 1514 Raphael was in such demand that assistants completed much of his work from then on. There are some exceptions however including portraits like that of Baldassare Castiglione (1514/15). This piece, above many, has been admired by artists since Raphael. Titian, it is believed, was deeply influenced after seeing this piece on display in the house of the subject. Cézanne was taken with 'how well rounded the forehead is, with all the distinct planes. How well balanced the patches in the unity of the whole.' Rembrandt modelled one of his numerous self portraits on the exact same pose after seeing the image at a sale in Amsterdam in 1639.

François I of France avidly collected works by Raphael which were subsequently put on display in public galleries (The Great Holy Family of François I). Thus the full force of the Italian Renaissance was felt in France more so than in any other surrounding European countries outside of Italy.

Gowing, L. (1987) Paintings in the Louvre. New York, U.S.A.: Stewart, Tabor & Chang.
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Laclotte, M. and Cuzin, J-P. (1993) The Louvre: European Paintings. London: Scala Publications Ltd.

Piper, D. (1981). The Dictionary of Painting & Sculpture, Art & Artists, Painters & Sculptors, Terms & Techniques. London: Mitchell Beazley Publishers.

Roettgen, S (1996) Italian Frescoes: The Early Renaissance (1400 - 1470). New York, U.S.A.: Abbeyville Press.
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