Was Raphael as Saintly as They Say?

By Linda Wolk-Simon
The Transfiguration (1518–20), Raphael. Pinacoteca Vaticana, Vatican City. Photo: Ian Dagnall Computing/Alamy Stock Photo
Raphael died shortly after 10pm on 6 April 1520 – Good Friday – at the age of 37. Seizing on the anagogical significance of the date, one of the many stricken observers reporting on his death from the papal court remarked, with some chronological licence, that just as at Christ’s Crucifixion, the heavens willed a sign of profound grief, causing the walls of the Vatican palace to rupture. There is no doubt that Raphael was indeed genial, polite, sociable, and genuinely fond of and beloved by his many friends and associates. At the same time, he was ambitious, competitive, conspiratorial, and occasionally ruthless in his single-minded climb to the top – less attractive aspects of his character that have recently begun to come into focus. [More]