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(răf`ēəl, rā`–), archangel. He is prominent in the book of TobitTobit
[Gr. from Heb. Tobijah=God is my good], book of the Old Testament Apocrypha, not included in the Hebrew Bible. It is the account of Tobit, a devout Jew in exile, and of his son Tobias.
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, as the companion of Tobias, as the healer of Tobit, and as the rescuer of Sara from Asmodeus. Milton made him a featured character of Paradise Lost. Feast: Sept. 29 (jointly with the other archangels).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(real name, Raffaello Sanzio). Born Mar. 26 or 28 (according to some sources, Apr. 6), 1483, in Urbino; died Apr. 6, 1520, in Rome. Italian painter and architect.

Raphael’s harmonious art is the clearest embodiment of the High Renaissance humanistic concept of a beautiful and perfect world and of the lofty and life-affirming ideals of beauty.

Raphael, the son of the painter Giovanni Santi, moved to Perugia in 1500, where he entered the studio of Perugino. Raphael’s great talent was discernible in his very first works. The artist harmoniously integrated graceful figures with the landscape in such works as Vision of a Knight (c. 1500–02, National Gallery, London), Three Graces (c. 1500–02, Condé Museum, Chantilly), and The Conestabile Madonna (c, 1500–02, Hermitage, Leningrad). Upon leaving Perugino’s studio, Raphael painted the altarpiece The Marriage of the Virgin (1504, Brera Gallery, Milan), which very closely resembles Perugino’s fresco Christ Delivering the Keys to St. Peter in its treatment of space. The composition is crowned by a graceful domed structure, which harmonizes with the semicircular frame of the picture.

In 1504, Raphael moved to Florence, where he studied anatomy and perspective and the works of outstanding Florentine artists, especially Fra Bartolommeo and Leonardo da Vinci. His painting was marked by greater activity, but its compositional system remained strictly balanced (as seen in St. George and the Dragon, c. 1504–05, National Gallery, Washington). Raphael’s numerous altarpieces earned him fame. His Madonnas painted between 1504 and 1508 exemplify pure maternal charm. They are depicted either holding the Christ child in their arms (Granduca Madonna, Pitti Palace, Florence) or sitting in a meadow, with the Christ child playing with John the Baptist (Madonna of the Meadows, Museum of Art History, Vienna; La Belle Jardiniére, Louvre, Paris). The artist’s larger works (for example, Entombment, 1507, Borghese Gallery, Rome), consisting of many figures and intended to create a dramatic effect, are less successful than his Madonnas.

In 1508, Bramante, on behalf of Pope Julius II, invited Raphael to Rome to work at the Vatican. In Rome the master studied the monuments of antiquity and took part in excavations. Raphael’s frescoes for the papal apartments (stanze) in the Vatican are his greatest masterpieces. Their content is immeasurably broader than what had been officially commissioned (glorification of the Catholic Church and the pope). The frescoes celebrate man’s freedom, earthly happiness, and optimum physical and intellectual development. The action in the solemn and stately populous compositions almost always takes place within or against a background of Renaissance buildings. Raphael brilliantly established continuity between real and painted space without creating an optical illusion.

In the Stanza della Segnatura (1509–11), Raphael depicted four areas of human activity: theology (The Disputa on the Sacrament), philosophy (The School of Athens), poetry (Parnassus), and jurisprudence (The Books of the Law). Corresponding depictions of allegorical figures and biblical and mythological scenes decorate the ceiling. In the second hall, the Stanza dell’ Eliodoro (1511–14), the genius of Raphael—as a master of chiaroscuro—reached its fullest expression. The room is decorated with frescoes depicting historical and legendary events, for example, Expulsion of Heliodorus, Repulse of Attila, Mass of Bohena, and Release of St. Peter.

The dramatic force of the Stanza dell’ Eliodoro gave way to a certain theatricality in the decoration of the third room, the Stanza dell’ Incendio (1514–17). This change was due not only to the participation of assistants but also to growing reactionary influences, which affected the humanistic principles behind Raphael’s art. Raphael’s Vatican frescoes include cartoons for tapestries to decorate the Sistine Chapel during holy days (1515–16, black chalk and brush, Victoria and Albert Museum, London). The fresco Galatea (1514, Villa Farnesina, Rome) is permeated by the spirit of classical Greece, with its cult of sensual beauty.

In Rome, Raphael attained maturity as a portrait painter. He sought, above all, to render the dominant traits of his subject’s personality, such as the restrained authoritativeness of Julius II (Julius II, c. 1511, Uffizi Gallery, Florence), the haughtiness of an unidentified cardinal (Unknown Cardinal, c. 1512, Prado, Madrid), the gentleness of “veiled women” (Donna Velata, c.1513, Pitti Palace), the affability and urbanity of the artist’s close friend B. Castiglione (Baldassare Castiglione, 1515–16, Louvre), and the effeteness and epicurism of Pope Leo X (Leo X and Two Cardinals, c. 1518, Pitti Palace). In Raphael’s Roman madonnas the idyllic mood gave way to profound maternal feelings (Alba Madonna, c. 1510–11, National Gallery, Washington; Madonna of Foligno, c.1511–12, Vatican Pinacoteca; Madonna of the Chair, c. 1516, Pitti Palace). Raphael’s crowning achievement was the Sistine Madonna (1515–19, Dresden Picture Gallery), which harmoniously combines the moods of anxiety and profound tenderness.

During the last years of his short life, Raphael received a great many commissions, and he entrusted the execution of much of his work to his assistants and pupils, who included Giulio Romano, F. Penni, and Pierino del Vaga. In such works as the frescoes for the entrance loggia (Loggia di Psiche) of the Villa Farnesina (1514–18) and the frescoes and stucco moldings for the Vatican loggias (1519), Raphael limited himself to a supervisory role; these works clearly show mannerist influences. Raphael’s last altarpiece, which he never finished, was Transfiguration (1519–20, Vatican Pinacoteca).

Raphael’s work as an architect, which serves as a link between the work of Bramante and Palladio, is of great importance. After Bramante’s death, Raphael was appointed the chief architect of St. Peter’s Basilica. He gave the edifice a new basilican form and completed the Vatican loggias, which Bramante had begun. In Rome, Raphael designed the circular Church of Sant Eligio degli Orefici (begun 1509) and the elegant Chigi Chapel of the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo (1512–20).

Raphael’s work as an architect also included palaces. His Vi-doni-Caffarelli Palace in Rome (from 1515) is marked by a rusticated facade (the first story) and by paired half columns on the second story. The Branconio dell’ Aquivila (completed 1520, destroyed), which was also in Rome, had a sumptuously modeled facade. Raphael designed the Pandolfini Palace in Florence (construction begun in 1520 by the architect G. da Sangallo); the palace is distinguished by a noble restraint of form and by intimate interiors. Raphael always related the facade and its decoration to the building site, surrounding structures, and the dimensions and purpose of his building. Elegance and individuality were the hallmark of each of his palaces. Raphael’s partially executed Villa Madama in Rome (begun 1517, construction continued by A. da Sangallo the Younger but never completed) is interesting owing to its integration with the surrounding courtyards, gardens, and vast terraced park.

Although Raphael had no outstanding pupils, his art for a long time remained a model of undisputed authority. It inspired such artists as N. Poussin and A. A. Ivanov. Proponents of academicism, who considered Raphael’s work the consummate example of the ideal in art, also drew upon the master’s legacy. Hence, opponents of academicism often attacked Raphael, underestimating the genuine realistic foundations of his art.


Rafael’ Santi (album). Introductory article by A. Gabrichevskii. Moscow, 1956.
Alpatov, M. V. Etiudy po istorii zapadnoevropeiskogo iskusstva, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1963. Pages 75–116.
Grashchenkov, V. N. Rafael’. Moscow, 1971.
Fischel, O. Raphael, vols. 1–2. London, 1948.
Dussler, L. Raffael: Kritisches Verzeichnis der Gemälde, Wandbilder und Bildteppichen. Munich, 1966.
Raffaello, vols. 1–2. Novara, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


God’s healer and helper in Book of Tobit. [Apocrypha: Tobit]
See: Angel
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. Bible one of the archangels; the angel of healing and the guardian of Tobias (Tobit 3:17; 5--12). Feast day: Sept. 29
2. original name Raffaello Santi or Sanzio. 1483--1520, Italian painter and architect, regarded as one of the greatest artists of the High Renaissance. His many paintings include the Sistine Madonna (?1513) and the Transfiguration (unfinished, 1520)


Bible one of the archangels; the angel of healing and the guardian of Tobias (Tobit 3:17; 5--12). Feast day: Sept. 29
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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