Delle Rite De Più Eccellenti Pittori, Scultorl, Ed Arckitettori

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Raffaello Sanzio


How bountiful and benign Heaven sometimes shows itself in showering upon a single person the infinite riches of its treasures, and all those graces and rarest gifts that it is wont to distribute among many individuals, over a long space of time, could be clearly seen in the no less excellent than gracious Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino. . . . Nature presented him to the world, when, vanquished by art through the hands of Michelangelo Buonarroti, she wished to be vanquished, in Raffaello, by art and character together. . . .

Raffaello painted on a wall the coming of Attila to Rome and his encounter at the foot of Monte Mario with Leo the Great, who drove him away with his mere benediction. In this scene Raffaello made St. Peter and St. Paul in the air, with swords in their hands, to defend the Church. While the story of Leo the Great says nothing of this, nevertheless it was thus that he chose to represent it, perchance out of fancy, for it often happens that painters, like poets, go straying from their subject in order to make their work the more ornate, although their digressions are not such as to be out of harmony with their first intention. In the faces of the two apostles may be seen that celestial wrath and ardor which the Divine Justice is wont often to impart to the features of its ministers, charged with defending the most holy Faith. . . .

In Rome he made a picture of good size, in which he portrayed Pope Leo X, Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici, and Cardinal de’ Rossi. In this the figures appear to be not painted, but in full relief; there is the pile of the velvet, with the damask of the pope’s vestments shining and rustling, the fur of the linings soft and natural, and the gold and silk so counterfeited that they do not seem to be in color, but real gold and silk. There is an illuminated book of parchment, which appears more real than the reality; and a little bell of wrought silver, which is more beautiful than words can tell. Among other things, also, is a ball of burnished gold on the pope’s chair, wherein are reflected, as if it were a mirror, the light from the windows, the shoulders of the pope, and the walls round the room. All these things are executed with such diligence that one may well believe that no master is able, or is ever likely to be able, to do better. For this work the pope was pleased to reward him very richly; and the picture is still to be seen in Florence. . . .

For Giulio de’ Medici, Cardinal and Vice-Chancellor, he painted a panel picture, to be sent into France, of the Transfiguration of Christ. . . . In this picture he represented Christ Transfigured on Mount Tabor, at the foot of which are the eleven disciples awaiting Him. . . . He made therein figures and heads so fine in their novelty and variety, to say nothing of their extraordinary beauty, that it is the common opinion of all craftsmen that this work, among the vast number that he painted, is the most glorious, the most lovely, and the most divine. Whoever wishes to know how Christ Transfigured should be represented in painting, must look at this work, wherein Raffaello made Him in perspective over Mount Tabor, in a sky of exceeding brightness, with Moses and Elias, who, illumined by a dazzling splendor, burst into life in His light. Prostrate on the ground, in attitudes of great beauty and variety, are Peter, James, and John; one has his head to the earth, and another, shading his eyes with his hands, is defending himself from the rays and intense light of the splendor of Christ. He, clothed in snow-white raiment, with His arm outstretched and His head raised, appears to reveal the Divine essence and nature of all the Three Persons united and concentrated in Himself. This picture exhibits the perfect art of Raffaello, who seems to have summoned up all this power to show the supreme force of his art in the countenance of Christ. After finishing it, the last work that he was to do, he never again touched a brush, being overtaken by death. . . .

1 Vasari, , vol. iv, pp. 209–250.

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Chicago: Delle Rite De Più Eccellenti Pittori, Scultorl, Ed Arckitettori in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 463. Original Sources, accessed July 22, 2024,

MLA: . Delle Rite De Più Eccellenti Pittori, Scultorl, Ed Arckitettori, Vol. iv, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, page 463. Original Sources. 22 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: , Delle Rite De Più Eccellenti Pittori, Scultorl, Ed Arckitettori. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.463. Original Sources, retrieved 22 July 2024, from