More about Giovanni Santi, the artist Raphael’s father

I can’t resist sharing this quote from Civilisation, by Kenneth Clark, art historian, (rich, leftish, money from Clark’s cotton reels), father of the [more?] famous Alan Clark, politician and diarist, (rich, right-wing, money from Clark’s cotton reels), about Giovanni Santi, artist, father of the more famous artist, Raphael. “The court painter was a silly old creature named Giovanni Santi, the sort of obliging mediocrity who is always welcome in courts, even in the court of Urbino.  No doubt the ladies, when they were in need of a design for embroidery, used to say “Let’s send for dear old Mr Santi” – and when he came he brought with him his beautiful little son, Raffaello. And so Raphael … found his earliest impressions of harmony and proportion and good manners in the court of Urbino. ” (Kenneth Clark: Civilisation  ch.4, p.87. London, Penguin, 1987.) Well, dear old Lord Clark probably knew very well that the silly old creature had brought his son up to be a courtier. Of course Clark knew Vasari’s biography of Raphael and his description of dear old Mr Santi which I quoted last time. He probably had seen Raphael’s draft of a poem in his elegant italic hand many a time in the British Museum (Cat 84 in the National Gallery exhibition), and knew that Raphael was a friend of intellectuals at the court of Urbino  such as Baldassare Castiglione,

Baldassare Castiglione c 1515

author of the Courtier, whose portrait he painted, and the humanist Pietro Bembo. So he tried to express this in a “popular” way.

The more you write about someone, the more fond you get of them, so I thought I would list some of  the places in Le Marche and elsewhere where you can see dear old Mr Santi’s work.

Cagli, San Domenico, Tiranni Chapel.

Sacra Conversazione with the Resurrection of Christ.

Fano, Sta Maria Nuova

Visitation (in restauro in May 2013 and therefore not visible)

Florence, Galleria Corsini

The Muse Clio

London, National Gallery (not on show)

The Virgin and Child

Royal Collection (probably not on show)

Drawing for The Muse Clio, “A woman standing before rocks”.

Montefiorentino; Convent

Madonna enthroned with Saints.

Urbino, Galleria Nazionale delle Marche

The Dead Christ supported by Two Angels ( and many other paintings). This particular painting is supposed to have been placed on the edge of the pulpit in San Bernadino degli Zoccolanti, the Montefeltro mausoleum. (Raphael from Urbino to Rome: London; National Gallery, 2004, cat 5, p76.)

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About Alys Blakeway

I have a holiday home in Corinaldo in the province of Ancona in the Marche region of Italy. I have been going there since 1993 and would like to share my love and experience of the area. I speak Italian. Io ho una casa di villeggiatura a Corinaldo nella provincia di Ancona, Regione Marche. Frequento Corinaldo da 1993 e desidero condividere i miei affetto e esperienza della zona con gli altri. Gli italiani sono sinceramente invitati a correggere gli sbagli.
This entry was posted in Churches, Giovanni Santi, History of Art, Holiday, Italy, Le Marche, Mausoleum, Museum, Raphael, Religious art, Renaissance paintings, Travel, Urbino, Vacation and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to More about Giovanni Santi, the artist Raphael’s father

  1. Edward Fennell says:

    I wonder how many other maestri have sprung somewhat mediocre fathers? From my instant memory neither Leonardo nor Michelangelo had any artists in the family – and neither did Titian, I suspect.

    Obviously the most important factor was for the family to have enough connections/knowledge to get the budding genius into the workshop of a master.

    Do we know of any Marche artists who emerged without the benefit of a proper workshop training? Who were, in other words, self-taught.

    Anyway, at least Santi was good enough to be bought by the Queen.

    Liked by 1 person

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