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Raphael [Hardcover]

Antonio Forcellino , Lucinda Byatt
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

8 Jun 2012
Craving pleasure as well as knowledge, Raphael Sanzio was quick to realize that his talent would only be truly appreciated in the liberal, carefree and extravagantly sensual atmosphere of Rome during its golden age under Julius II and Leo X. Arriving in the city in 1508 at the age of twenty–five, he was entranced and seduced by life at the papal court and within a few months had emerged as the most brilliant star in its intellectual firmament. His art achieved a natural grace that was totally uninhibited and free from subjection. His death, at just thirty–seven, plunged the city into the kind of despair that follows the passing of an esteemed and much loved prince. In this major new biography Antonio Forcellino retraces the meteoric arc of Raphael’s career by re–examining contemporary documents and accounts and interpreting the artist’s works with the eye of an expert art restorer. Raphael’s paintings are vividly described and placed in their historical context. Forcellino analyses Raphael’s techniques for producing the large frescos for which he is so famous, examines his working practices and his organization of what was a new kind of artistic workshop, and shows how his female portraits expressed and conveyed a new attitude to women. This rich and nuanced account casts aside the misconceptions passed on by those critics who persistently tried to undermine Raphael’s mythical status, enabling one of the greatest artists of all time to re–emerge fully as both man and artist.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Polity Press (8 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745644112
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745644110
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 371,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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′A brilliant and lyrical biography ... The masterful quality of Forcellino’s account lies not only in the beauty of its language, translated impeccably from Italian into English, but in the seamlessness and self–assurance with which he himself works across northern Italy, its paintings, its politics.′ The Spectator ′An excellent introduction to the workshop of the Renaissance artist, and to the careful and patient techniques employed in the making of timeless art works … Forcellino has done a very creditable service in his re–examination of the life of an artist who, more than any other, embodied the spirit of the Italian Renaissance.′ Irish Examiner ′Antonio Forcellino has now celebrated Raphael′s life and career by writing this ebullient book, elegantly translated by Lucinda Byatt ... [Forcellino] is ingenious and fastidious in describing Raphael′s works, and his book will give pleasure to those coming to them for the first time; it even highlights a few things connoisseurs may have missed.′ Literary Review ′A detailed biography that explains Raphael′s achievements during his short life, while also showing how his social skills and affable temperament helped him to advance his career … This informative book is also a rich treasury of information about the artistic developments and techniques of the period.′ Historical Novel Society ′Forcellino seeks to liberate his subject from later cultural and art–historical associations. Challenging post–Romantic conventions of the solitary genius, he presents Raphael as fully engaged with his society: a man whose eroticism and talent for friendship flowed naturally into his art ... Forcellino′s Raphael is a lover, not a fighter.′ The Art Newspaper ′Written in his usual lively style, Forcellino′s new book combines fast–moving narrative, a vivid portrait of Raphael the man, and a perceptive analysis of his art.′ Peter Burke, University of Cambridge

About the Author

Antonio Forcellino is an art historian and restorer.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A passionate writer... 30 Oct 2012
By techpuppy TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
After the disappointment of Antonio Forcellino's previous book on Michelangelo, which was continually derailed by a rocky, pot-holed translation, I was hoping this book on Raphael might be a return to form. Thankfully this book has the same translator, Lucinda Byatt, as Forcellino's earlier (very enjoyable) The Lost Michelangelos and so we're back on solid ground - well, except for Forcellino's flights of fancy while telling his story. He's not a writer who sticks only to forensic detail, although as a renowned restorer he certainly has that degree of insight at his disposal, and frequently allows his love for the works to sweep the story along on romantic imaginings. These might be an acquired taste for some readers but, when sympathetically translated, they seemed authentically Italian and somehow entirely appropriate to me. We'll never know the exact details of all the events and motivations behind these paintings so having Forcellino fill in some blanks with his own well-informed supposition is part of the pleasure of the book. Forcellino is one of those experts able to communicate his enthusiasm for a subject and make it so infectious that even if the artist he's discussing isn't that familiar to you it's still compelling.

My only complaint is that there aren't enough illustrations in the book, you want to see every painting mentioned in the text while reading but they're not all here. If you have an iPad or iPhone you might like to know there's a free app available that contains hundreds more illustrations of Raphael drawing and paintings - just search for 'Raphael' in the App Store. It makes a nice pictorial accompaniment to an already highly enjoyable book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art history at its very best 23 July 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What a simply wonderful book. My interest in art history and in Raphael in particular does colour my assessment of this book which, as the first reviewer has already pointed out it may not appeal to the general reader. Antonio Forcellino's ability to evoke the period is outstanding. This may stray into faction but it certainly adds layers of interest to this account of Raphael's life. You can almost feel and taste the social and cultural context. This is a book that brings the period to life. Another, and obviously crucial, aspect of the author's skills is the quality of the research that has gone into the narrative. It's also pleasing to see Vasari's work being challenged in an informed, scholarly manner. The quality of the translation by Lucinda Byatt is excellent. Highly recommended to anyone interested in art history.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent biographical study of Raphael 13 Aug 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As with his book on Michelangelo Buonarotti, Mr Forcellino combines an easily readable narrative with an expert view of the paintings. As an admirer of Raphael's work who has visited many of the places where his paintings are to be found, this volume gives an added impetus to return and see the works with fresh eyes. I was particularly impressed with his analysis of the two similar paintings by Raphael and his old teacher Pinturicchio, the first fine but static, Raphael's, exuberant and full of spatial awareness and individuality.

It is Mr Forcellino's strongest point, that he can write in detail about the work in a fascinating but eminently understandable way for the layman to comprehend.

This is an excellent book, which anyone with an interest in Raphael's career and work will enjoy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An intimate view of the painter 17 May 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book answered many questions about Raphael's life and as its written by an Italian, had a sense of ownership I found absorbing. Lots of info about paints used, how and why, and the players of the time. I still wanted to get inside Raphael's head and didn't quite get there, but maybe my enthusiasm and interest in this painter is, if not obsessional, then unrealistic. Learned a lot, and Italy certainly came alive for me.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Art History Circa 1950 19 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The reputation of Raphael, the painter of the Stanze in the Vatican, a contributor to the design of St Peter's and the decorator of the Villa Farnesina has been more prone to the vagaries of fashion than most and often afforded less attention than his contemporaries Michelangelo and Leonardo. Consequently, the publication of a new biography should be a cause of celebration making it all the more regrettable to have to be so negative about this volume especially since the author clearly demonstrates a great sympathy for Raphael and an impressive grasp of the visual complexity of his work. There are a number of reasons for this lukewarm response. Firstly, the methodological approach of the writer is what used to be called 'formalist' placing great emphasis on describing and deciphering the image and being much less interested in the broader context- Art History well into the 1960's used to be dominated by such writing. This way of looking at art also has the effect of giving enormous weight to the individual judgement of the writer encouraging a largely subjective response to the work of art and reducing the role of documentary sources. Certainly this is what happens in this book: although it purports to be a biography, we learn little about Raphael the man or his daily life-what we do learn is the result of the author's supposition not real evidence. No doubt the lack of sources on Raphael's life is a major factor here, but this absence of material is exploited by Forcellino in order to amplify his own personal view of the painter and his work. Read more ›
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