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Any young artist who had risen to artistic maturity overshadowed by the towering reputations of Leonardo and Michelangelo could easily have been discouraged. Not so Raffaello Santi, of Urbino, the young pretender to the mantle of Renaissance greatness, whose moderate temper, hard work and unique talent earned him a level of admiration equal to that of his older contemporaries. Raphael is renowned for the beauty of his portraits and the perfectly balanced composition of his larger historical paintings. His works are sensual and measured studies of the human form. Known for his numerous paintings of the Madonna and Child, Raphael became a favourite of the papal court, undertaking commissions from popes Julius II and Leo X. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Raphael did not simply copy from nature but formed a certain idealised concept of beauty. In his short life Raphael achieved an unprecedented level of artistic maturity and such was the admiration for his idealised forms that they were adopted by artists and art academies as the model of beauty until the end of the 19th Century.
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