Who Else but Raphael?

RaphaelWhat was I going to do? Talk about geneticist James Watson? I’m trying to rid myself of people with really vile opinions. And his attitude toward the great geneticist Rosalind Franklin is totally unacceptable. And let’s face it, Watson and Crick were not that great. They were the first of many who were very close to doing the same thing. They also stood on the shoulders of many great scientists who went before them. So James Watson? No no no!

And could I give the day to Merle Haggard? He too has some vile ideas that are not limited to “Okie From Muskogee,” although that would be enough. I hate all that, “We’re the good ones because we drink booz unlike those hippies who smoke that marijuana!” And it is particularly bad because he was and probably still is a big cannabis smoker. So he is little more than Sarah Palin, pushes divisive politics for his own personal gain. But at least he has something to offer unlike Palin:

No, my hands were tied. Today we have to talk about Raphael who was born on this day ( or maybe 28 March) in 1483. He was following in the family business, being the son of Giovanni Santi. He was apprenticed at the age of eight with the great painter Pietro Perugino. But he was orphaned at the age of eleven. To give you some idea of his talent, check out his self-portrait from around that time.

It is remarkable to compare the work of Raphael from those who went before him. He adds so much naturalism to the High Renaissance style. It is not surprising that he is normally compared with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. To the list, I would add Fra Bartolomeo, who is generally underrated. But just look at Saint George and the Dragon:

Saint George and the Dragon - Raphael

Or Madonna in the Meadow:

Madonna in the Meadow - Raphael

Sadly, he died on his 37th birthday after a short illness. According to legend, the illness was caused by especially vigorous sex with Margherita Luti. But you know what they say: correlation does not imply causation. I doubt that was the real cause. It is quite likely that the doctors killed him, since that tended to be what doctors did in those days. Regardless, it’s sad. The currents of art were changing and it would have been interesting to see how it affected Raphael. Still, we have a lot of great art from him.

Happy birthday Raphael!

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