Raphael or Raffaello, a painter and architect of the Florentine school in the Italian High Renaissance, was born on April 6, 1483 and died on his 37th birthday, April 6, 1520 (see the note below about earlier confusion about these dates). He was also called Raffaello Sanzio, Raffaello Santi, Raffaello de Urbino or Rafael Sanzio de Urbino.
The School of Athens
Raphael is best known for his Madonnas and Holy families and for his large frescoes in the Vatican Palace. Indeed, in 1509 he was called to Rome to decorate the Vatican Stanze (rooms), for Pope Julius II. The best known of these works are The School of Athens and the Disputation on the Blessed Sacrament, two large, arch-shaped frescoes, the first depicting the philosophers of Antiquity grouped around Plato and Aristotle and the second depicting Christian theologians grouped under Jesus.
Under Pope Leo X he was chief architect of Saint Peter's Basilica in 1514 and he was named as a sort of supervisor for Roman archaeology research.
There is often confusion about Raphael's dates. Sources variously say: (a) Raphael died on his 37th birthday; (b) he died on the eve of his 37th birthday; (c) both his dates of birth and death were Good Friday; and (d) there have been mistakes in converting from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. Clearly, these statements cannot all be true.
The truth seems to be as follows:
Skull of Raphael, reconstruction of the face of Raphael from the skull.
Links and references
Artcyclopedia: Raphael (http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/raphael.html)
Parodies and misuses of Raphael's cherubs from the Sistine Madona (http://www.isidore-of-seville.com/angels/20.html)