Raphael and Sprezzatura
Raphael was the most significant painter of sprezzatura. Castiglione's depiction of the Court of Urbino was used to sum up the ideals which characterized the Renaissance, and he used Raphael as an example: "To do it justice, [Castiglione] needed the manner of Raphael; for Raphael, who had painted so many of its courtiers and who was himself a son of Urbino, had caught the quintessence of that society in a manner whose mellow elegance --so deceptively simple, so nobly mediocre--was the sublimation of the normal, the pink of its perfection." Raphael's portrait, Baldassare Castiglione, displays the courtier as the epitome of sprezzatura. The count was a close friend of Raphael's, and, in this portrait, he shows the inner calm that was essential for a decorous gentleman. The subdued colors of his costume emphasize his restraint. Another painting, St. George and the Dragon, was painted by Raphael and given to Castiglione in 1504. The slayer shows an innocent composure, and even the horse does not appear to be unsettled about the situation. In battle, as in an execution, the perfect courtier remained cool.
The primacy of Raphael resulted from the ascension of Leo X to the papacy in 1513. The pope had a critical role in promoting sprezzatura; pleasure became a large part of his policy. He is reported to have said, "God gave us the papacy, so let us enjoy it!" He perceived that the development of Italian genius was towards art, rather than politics or religion. He spent his money to beautify Rome and recruit the most talented artists in the region. The pope was easy-going, and loved luxury. He couldn't deal with the violence of Michelangelo, so the commissions for the Vatican went chiefly to Raphael and others who could work in his style. Under Leo X, Raphael rose to an unprecedented level of power in the world of art. The pope dropped the aggressive political policy of Julius II, instead concentrating on pleasure, relaxation and socialization. "The furia of Julius was over and with it went the terribilitą of Michelangelo....In Rome, his place was taken by Raphael of Urbino, whose graceful facility Leo appreciated. In art he loved ease and charm; life was strenuous enough, and much too harsh." While Piero and Uccello departed from the idea of grace in their stiffness and deliberation, Michelangelo departed from it in his strength and passion. Comparing his Moses with the calm of Raphael¹s figures in The School of Athens reveals why the pope preferred Raphael¹s mildness.