Reading about Raphael is such a refreshing experience. Unlike the "tormented" Michelangelo, the frustrated Leonardo, or the mad Vincent, Raphael's story brings contentment, happiness. I hardly detect any hatred, not much arrogance in the artist, and observe quite a lot of shrewdness and resourcefulness, as well as, of course, ingenuity. His works, certainly, radiate light and grace.
Forcellino, in his introduction, gives readers an impression of a Raphael that is not a spiritual version usually evoked by traditional art critics, but rather a sensual and erotic artist. However, if readers are eager to seek for some scandalous, sensational information about Raphael's love & sex life, they will be disappointed. What Forcellino offers is thorough discussion of Raphael's works to reveal this sensuality. I'm impressed with the author's profound knowledge of painting and architecture techniques of the time, which are often taken for granted, but in fact play an enormous role in deciding the fate, the style, the finish of the artwork. Forcellino also pulls the whole cultural and political life of the late 15th early 16th century of every city that Raphael lived. This is indeed the very strength of the book, as readers feel so much comfortable and relaxing reading about this duke, that cardinal, those bankers, etc. with curiosity and humor. His storytelling skill is quite remarkable, while his explanation is very readable.