When Raphael was eleven, he promised his dying father that he would become the greatest artist in history. This book is the story of how he tried to keep that promise. The painting of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel has been told in countless histories, biographies, and works of fiction. But it has never been told like this, through the eyes and voice of his rival, Raphael Santi of Urbino. And what a voice it is. He begins his story with a tirade about Michelangelo and the myths that have surrounded his painting of the Sistine Chapel. How he laid on his back to paint it . . . not true. How he hates to paint. Also not true. He continues by saying people think of him as the ideal courtier, with talent that comes easily and as beautiful on the inside as on the outside. And he says that is not true either.
This was a delightful book. It had everything: beautiful writing, settings, that were rich and full of detail, characters that lived, that you could care about, a gripping plot. Although it is fiction, decades of research into Italian Renaissance art and of the life of Raphael preceded its writing. With a recommendation that the reader have a computer or tablet handy to look up the referenced works, everything comes together. I highly recommend this book, you will enjoy it, even if you are not interested in Renaissance art.
eGalley review Publication date 4.7.2020