I have chosen The Marriage of the Virgin as a document analysis because I want to contrast this work with works of Perugino, especially Christ giving the Keys to St Peter (1481-1482) and also The Marriage of the Virgin (1500-1504). Raphael was commissioned to produce the work by the Albizzini family of Citta di Castello (scala 8) for the chapel of St Joseph in the Church of San Francesco. In comparison to the two works of Perugino the similarities are easily recognised. However although we can date Perugino’s earlier work between 1481and1482, his Marriage of the Virgin can only be dated from between 1500 and 1504. Raphael helpfully named himself and dated his work in the middle of the temple and so we know definitely it was finished in 1504, so although it would seem likely, one should be cautious to date Perugino’s Marriage of the Virgin earlier than Raphael’s.
In 1504 Raphael was twenty one years old and was still an apprentice in the school of Perugino,and he executed it prior to his stay in Florence, and so it is natural to assume his work was still greatly influenced by his master. The painting has significant parallels with the Christ giving the Keys to St Peter in the Sistine Chapel. As in the earlier fresco, Raphael uses the same structural format. The pavilion is the dominating central focus which gives the depth of the scene in relation to the figures of the foreground. The figures between the pavilion and the frontal scene is proportional in size and shows Raphael’s confidence in the use of perspective. The landscape shows the influence of Perugino, the viewer may get a sense of tranquility and stillness which one may also associate with the actual landscapes of Umbria, and speaking from experience I certainly did.
When looking in detail at the figures in the foreground one can see the influence of Perugino within the faces of the characters. The faces of the ladies and indeed the men either side of the Joseph and Mary all have the serene, graceful and introspective qualities one would associate with Perugino. The ladies with their small mouths seem hard to differentiate from Perugino’s own figures.From these similarities it may be said that at this time Raphael was truly a disciple of Perugino and Painter in his style.
Although there is much to associate Raphael with the school of Perugino within this painting, there can also be seen that within the work Raphael has started to move away from his masters style and also out-master the master!
Bruno Santi in “Raphael, The Great Masters of Art” (p10) writes of Raphael’s superiority in the use of Perspective in comparison to Perugino. He cites Perugino’s fresco in the Sistine chapel is developed horizontally which is characteristic of the Quattrocento whereas Raphael uses a ‘well developed’ circular composition. The temple in Raphael’s representation is a polygonal building seemingly more complex than Perugino’s temple but perfectly portrayed and gives one a sense of Raphael’s complete confidence of the new architectural designs which were emerging through people such as Bramante and Da Vinci and it has been argued that their influence can be seen in this work.