His two great predecessors and rivals could both be difficult to get on with and proved to be unpredictable when carrying out their commissions, and so the young artist was able to compete despite the reputations of the two great masters.
At this time the artist was also influenced by the painter Fra Bartolomeo from Tuscany and the two remained on friendly terms, but the influence of Leonardo was apparent in "The Madonna of the Meadow" 1506.
The artist is noted for his many images of the Madonna. The
message of purity that the Madonna symbolises is an important one for Christians
and the wealthy and important private clients of the Renaissance demanded
pictures of the Virgin for their private devotion, a demand that Raphael was
eager to satisfy. The Madonna was a subject that stayed with him throughout his
short life, it is remarkable that he was able to offer such diversity, without repetition,
in his depictions of the Holy Mother.
Raphael's Madonna paintings.
Raphael arrived in Rome in 1508 and Pope Julius II soon found work for the young artist. He was asked to decorate the Pope's private library in a selection of rooms known as the Stanze. The paintings include "The School of Athens", "Disputation of the Sacrament" and "Parnassus", all housed in the signature room. These remain among the most famous images produced by the painter.
Pope Leo X succeeded Julius II on his death, he was a member of the Medici family and continued to act as patron to the artist who painted the Pope's portrait in 1518.