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Raphael (Raffaello Santi) was born in Urbino in 1483. He has always been recognised as one of the very greatest artists of the High Renaissance and in his short life he achieved astonishing success as a painter, designer and architect by working in Rome for two of the greatest patrons of the age: Popes Julius II and Leo X.

Raphael’s success had its origins, however, in Umbria and the Marche. His father, Giovanni Santi, was a painter, poet and courtier at the Montefeltro court of Urbino and Raphael probably learnt the first rudiments of painting from his father. The nature, timing and length of his apprenticeship/collaboration or study with the Perugian artist Pietro Perugino is much debated, but there is reliable contemporary evidence that it took place, and the influence on Raphael’s style was long-lasting. His first independent paintings were painted for Cittą di Castello, Urbino and Perugia and some of these can still be seen there today. He went on to establish himself in Florence and subsequently in Rome.

Raphael died in Rome in 1520 on his thirty seventh birthday. He was buried in the Pantheon and was honoured in death, as he had been in life. Although Michelangelo was the central figure in Vasari’s Lives of the Artists, Raphael was treated with great reverence by Vasari as the exemplary artist and saintly role-model (a pun on his family-name: Santi). To browse through those of Raphael’s works featured in Vasari, click here.  Raphael’s place in the pantheon of great artists diminished in the early twentieth century when the fashion for the artist as flawed genius made his work unappreciated.

In recent times, the development of the artist’s personal style has been subject to intense scrutiny, and Raphael is once again widely recognised as the epitome of artistic achievement in the first two decades of the Sixteenth Century. Tom has contributed to this re-evaluation in numerous ways: co-curating Late Raphael at the Prado, Madrid, from 11/6/12-16/9/12 and at the Louvre, Paris from 8/10/12-13/1/13; Raphael: from Urbino to Rome at the National Gallery, London, 2004-5 and Gli esordi di Raffaello tra Urbino, Cittą di Castello e Perugia at Cittą di Castello, 2006; publishing numerous articles on the artist in academic journals; and lecturing widely on Raphael in England, the United States and Italy, including lectures at the National Gallery and the Royal Academy in London, the Getty Centre, Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome.  Most recently, Tom co-curated the critically acclaimed exhibition on Raphael at the National Gallery, London, in April-July 2022.  For full details see CV.

Guests at Casa Nova will find printed itineraries for visiting Raphael’s works in the region (a Raphael route); and bespoke guided tours can sometimes be arranged (see Tom’s separate website,, for further details or email him at

You can read some of Tom’s recent publications about Raphael here (see CV for full details):

Review of Shearman’s collection of Raphael documents

Raphael’s Siege of Perugia’

Raphael and Siena

‘Raphael’s altar-piece patrons in Cittą di Castello’


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