What Impact Did Raphael Have on the Renaissance?

Raphael’s art contributed to a more detailed, realistic and glorified depiction of the human form. He captured the grandeur and dignity of the human spirit in a way that embodied the spirit of the Renaissance. Raphael’s work remained a major source of influence upon his successors until the 20th Century.

Raphael’s mark is visible throughout the great buildings of the Renaissance. As artistic director for two popes during his lifetime (and chief architect of St. Peter’s Basilica), Raphael drew considerable attention from artists throughout Italy, many of whom sought to emulate his style.

Raphael’s creations employ an incredibly lifelike depiction of the human body. Works like the “Deposition of Christ” and his series of “Madonna” paintings portray fluid motion, realistic dimensions and real-world light and shade patterns.

Raphael’s works are the most representative of the High Renaissance. His grand and noble portrayal of human beings recalls the attitudes of ancient Greece and Rome. Thus, Raphael achieved through the visual medium what the intellectuals were doing with science and literature: rediscovering the Classical conception of man as nature’s most excellent creature. He best captures the spirit of humanism in the “School of Athens,” a fresco in the Apostolic Palace that depicts the greatest minds of all time (Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras and Archimedes, among others) united in a sumptuous hall.