Raphael, Models, and the Making of Madonnas in Renaissance Rome
Kim Butler Wingfield
Associate Professor, American University, Washington, DC
Raphael Santi, praised as an artist “ever ready to assimilate” by his first biographer Paolo Giovio, represents an important case study on the question of the doctus artifex in the history of Italian Renaissance art. Raphael was just 17 at the time of his first documented commission, a monumental altarpiece, at which point it was clear he had been training as a painter for quite some time; this necessarily precluded access to a formal humanist education. Raphael nevertheless devised learned, and indeed “textual” pictorial inventions that were prized by his humanist patrons. This paper analyzes the Urbinate’s creative process in constructing Madonnas in his Roman period and examines his use of models, whether real or ideal. It considers a larger conceptual frame of sacred poetics that was inherently gendered, and which engaged with the interests of his patrons and humanist associates at the Julian and Leonine courts.