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The Renaissance – Raphael and SanziodaUrbino

RaffaelloSanziodaUrbino (1483-1520) was born in the Italian city of Urbino, where art and sculpture flourished during the Renaissance.  His father, Giovanni Santi was court painter for the Duke, and so Raffaello was exposed to art from birth.  As he grew, he became a painter and architect in his own right, and his work was often praised for its clear form and easy composition.  Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello is considered a member of the great trinity of masters from the Renaissance.

Because of his father, Raffaello was exposed to high court life through his most informative years.  By age 11, however, he was orphaned, and spent many years thereafter serving in apprenticeships,until he was 17, when he was recognized as a master artist.  His first known work as a master was the Baronci altarpiece for the church of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino in CittàdiCastello.  In the years that followed, he also produced such well known works as the “Mond Crucifixion” and “Wedding of the Virgin”.

Raffaello traveled for most of his adult life, but spent considerable time in Florence.  There, he was able to hone his style, while also incorporating the techniques of the area, and found his inspiration and influence in peers Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci (however, Michelangelo disliked both of those men).  Following Florence, Raffaello was commissioned by Pope Julius II to come to Rome and painted the Stanza dellaSegnatura (large rooms within the Vatican, including what would become the Pope’s private library).  He painted at least four stanze, and worked at the same time Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel.  When they were completed, the stanze became widely accepted as some of the most prominent works of the Renaissance.

During his life, Raffaello started his own workshop, which at one point had nearly 50 men working in it.  His great career was cut short, though, when he passed away on Good Friday in 1520, at only 37 years old.  The story goes that an evening with a woman left him feverish, and he didn’t tell the doctors the real cause, so he was given the wrong treatment and passed away.  Despite his premature death, Raffaello was still remembered for his greatness, and with so many of his works still surviving into the present day, he will forever be one of the masters of the Renaissance.

As with Leonardo and Donatello, it is hard to understand why Raphael was named for this particular Renaissance artist.  The turtle Raphael is known for his hot head, his rash decisions, and his powerful approach to every problem.  The artist Raffaello was marked by his gentle artistic style and clear form in composition.  History suggests that the two could not be further separated in their personalities.  In fact, given his disdain for Leonardo and Raffaello during the height of the Renaissance, the turtle Raphael seems to have more in common with the man Michelangelo.  Given this information, a true sense of the choices for Renaissance artists and the turtles that carry their names is starting to become clear.

           RaffaelloSanzio and Raphael 2

With this latest addition to the Renaissance-Ninja Turtle comparison, it is becoming more and more likely that the creators did not, in fact, choose the names of the individual turtles for any particular reason.  While Leonardo seems to fit in some way with Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo seem to be so mismatched with their artists that it’s most likely Eastman and Laird just chose four names at random and stuck them where they felt like it.  While this certainly isn’t a problem, the idea that Splinter chose the names for each turtle based on traits he saw in them (or envisioned for them) adds a lot of grandeur to the TMNT mythos.  But, it appears that that was not actually the case.

RaffaelloSanzio was one of the true masters of the Renaissance.  Even though he has nothing in common with his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle counterpart, Raphael was still named after a true master of his craft, and that alone should be inspiration enough to strive for mastery of his own.

The Author

Zach Gasior

Zach Gasior

Zach Gasior is an author and English professor at Baton Rouge Community College in Louisiana. His short stories have been published around the world, and he has two non-fiction books in print. He has contributed articles to several different sites, and has been a fan of the turtles since he was two years old, and his favorite ninja turtle is Raphael.

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