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11 August 2020

Raphael 500th Death Anniversary

Grenada: Raphael 500th Death Anniversary, 11 August 2020. Images from Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corporation.

Technical Specifications:

500th Memorial Anniversary of Raphael – Renaissance Artist Sheetlet of 4V
Country: Grenada
Item Number: GRA2002SH
Printing Method: Offset Lithography
Date of Issue: 11-Aug-20

Issued in perforated and imperforate varieties

Souvenir Sheet:

Technical Specifications:

500th Memorial Anniversary of Raphael – Renaissance Artist S/S 2V
Country: Grenada
Item Number: GRA2002SS
Printing Method: Offset lithography
Date of Issue: 11-Aug-20

Issued in perforated and imperforate varieties

Raphael was born in the small but artistically significant central Italian city of Urbino in the Marche region, where his father Giovanni Santi was court painter to the Duke. The reputation of the court had been established by Federico da Montefeltro, a highly successful condottiere who had been created Duke of Urbino by Pope Sixtus IV – Urbino formed part of the Papal States – and who died the year before Raphael was born. The emphasis of Federico’s court was more literary than artistic, but Giovanni Santi was a poet of sorts as well as a painter, and had written a rhymed chronicle of the life of Federico, and both wrote the texts and produced the decor for masque-like court entertainments. His poem to Federico shows him as keen to demonstrate awareness of the most advanced North Italian painters, and Early Netherlandish artists as well. In the very small court of Urbino he was probably more integrated into the central circle of the ruling family than most court painters.

His father placed him in the workshop of the Umbrian master Pietro Perugino as an apprentice “despite the tears of his mother”. The evidence of an apprenticeship comes only from Vasari and another source, and has been disputed; eight was very early for an apprenticeship to begin. An alternative theory is that he received at least some training from Timoteo Viti, who acted as court painter in Urbino from 1495. Most modern historians agree that Raphael at least worked as an assistant to Perugino from around 1500; the influence of Perugino on Raphael’s early work is very clear: “probably no other pupil of genius has ever absorbed so much of his master’s teaching as Raphael did”, according to Wölfflin. Vasari wrote that it was impossible to distinguish between their hands at this period, but many modern art historians claim to do better and detect his hand in specific areas of works by Perugino or his workshop. Apart from stylistic closeness, their techniques are very similar as well, for example having paint applied thickly, using an oil varnish medium, in shadows and darker garments, but very thinly on flesh areas. An excess of resin in the varnish often causes cracking of areas of paint in the works of both masters. The Perugino workshop was active in both Perugia and Florence, perhaps maintaining two permanent branches. Raphael is described as a “master”, that is to say fully trained, in December 1500.

His first documented work was the Baronci altarpiece for the church of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino in Città di Castello, a town halfway between Perugia and Urbino. Evangelista da Pian di Meleto, who had worked for his father, was also named in the commission. It was commissioned in 1500 and finished in 1501; now only some cut sections and a preparatory drawing remain. In the following years he painted works for other churches there, including the Mond Crucifixion (about 1503) and the Brera Wedding of the Virgin (1504), and for Perugia, such as the Oddi Altarpiece. He very probably also visited Florence in this period. These are large works, some in fresco, where Raphael confidently marshals his compositions in the somewhat static style of Perugino. He also painted many small and exquisite cabinet paintings in these years, probably mostly for the connoisseurs in the Urbino court, like the Three Graces and St. Michael, and he began to paint Madonnas and portraits. In 1502 he went to Siena at the invitation of another pupil of Perugino, Pinturicchio, “being a friend of Raphael and knowing him to be a draughtsman of the highest quality” to help with the cartoons, and very likely the designs, for a fresco series in the Piccolomini Library in Siena Cathedral. He was evidently already much in demand even at this early stage in his career.

Raphael died on Good Friday (April 6, 1520), which was possibly his 37th birthday. Vasari says that Raphael had also been born on a Good Friday, which in 1483 fell on March 28, and that the artist died from exhaustion brought on by unceasing romantic interests while he was working on the Loggia. Several other possibilities have been raised by later historians. In his acute illness, which lasted fifteen days, Raphael was composed enough to confess his sins, receive the last rites, and put his affairs in order. He dictated his will, in which he left sufficient funds for his mistress’s care, entrusted to his loyal servant Baviera, and left most of his studio contents to Giulio Romano and Penni. At his request, Raphael was buried in the Pantheon.

Raphael’s funeral was extremely grand, attended by large crowds. According to a journal by Paris de Grassis, four cardinals dressed in purple carried his body, the hand of which was kissed by the Pope. The inscription in Raphael’s marble sarcophagus, an elegiac distich written by Pietro Bembo, reads: “Here lies that famous Raphael by whom Nature feared to be conquered while he lived, and when he was dying, feared herself to die.”


Grenada currently utilizes the Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corporation as its stamp production agent.  As a result, many of its issues have little to no relevance with topics related to the island.

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