Raphael was born in Urbino, Italy in 1483. He first studied under his father, Giovanni Sanzio, who was a poet and painter at the court of Urbino. He probably studied under Timoteo Viti, who was in Urbino in 1495. Although through the ages people tried to credit him with an illustrious ancestry, his family couldn’t boast a drop of noble blood. Raphael was left on his own at a fairly early age. His father died of malaria when Raphael was only eleven. He left Urbino about 1500 and it is likely that he went at once to serve as an assistant to Perugino at Perugia.
In 1504 he went to Florence, where he spent the next four years of his life, and in 1508 he visited Rome in answer to a summons by Pope Julius II. After the death of Julius II he became the architect of St. Peter’s under Leo X. Almost all of Raphael’s Madonnas were painted in Florence between his twenty-first and twenty-fifth years. He completed, with Michelangelo and daVinci, the great triumvirate of Renaissance art.