Raffaelo di Giovanni Santi was the younger contemporary of Leonardo and Michelangelo, and with them epitomizes the High Renaissance in Italy. For most of the history of Western art, the easy grace and harmonious balance of Raphael’s style has represented an ideal of perfection. A man noted also for wit and charm, he has often been called the “prince of painters.”
Raphael must have studied first with his father, painter at the court of Urbino, an environment rich in the arts and humanist learning. The elder Santi died when the boy was 11. Whether Raphael entered the workshop of Perugino at that time or, as seems more likely, many years later when he was already an acknowledged artist, he quickly mastered Perugino’s delicate, ornamental style, with its open landscapes and gentle figures. It was said that contemporaries had trouble distinguishing Perugino’s work from Raphael’s, but Raphael’s compositions were more sophisticated even when he was a young artist.