Giorgio Vasari and the death of Raphael
The painter meanwhile did not abandon the light attachment by which he was enchained, and one day, on returning to his house from one of these secret visits, he was seized by a violent fever, which being mistaken for a cold, the physicians inconsiderably caused him to be bled, whereby he found himself exhausted, when he had rather required to be strengthened.
Thereupon he made his will, and, as a good Christian, he sent the object of his attachment from the house, but left her a sufficient provision wherewith she might live in decency. Having done so much, he divided his property among his disciples: Giulio Romano, that is to say, whom he always loved greatly, and Giovanni Francesco, with whom was joined by a certain priest of Urbino, who was his kinsman, but whose name I do not know. He furthermore commanded that a certain portion of his property should be employed in the restoration of one of the ancient tabernacles in Santa Maria Rotonda, which he had selected as his burial place, and for which he had ordered that an altar with the figure of Our Lady in marble should be prepared.
All that he possessed besides he bequeathed to Giulio Romano and Giovanni Francesco, naming Messer Baldassare da Pescia, who was then Datary to the Pope, as his executor. He then confessed, and in much contrition completed the course of his life on the day whereon it had commenced, which was Good Friday.The master was then in the thirty-seventh year of his age; and he embellished the world by his talents while on earth, so is to be believed that his soul is now adorning heaven.
After his death, the body of Raphael was placed at the upper end of the hall wherein he had last worked, with the picture of the Transfiguration, which he had executed for Cardinal Giulio de’Medici, at the end of the corpse. He who, regarding that living picture, afterwards turned to consider that body felt his heart bursting with grief as he beheld them. The death of Raphael caused the cardinal to command that his work should be place on the high altar of San Pietro in Montorio, where it has ever since been held in the utmost veneration for its own great value, as well as for the excellence of its author. The remains of this divine artist did not receive the honorable sepulture which the noble spirit they had been informed has so well deserved, nor was there any artist in Rome who did not deeply bewail the loss sustained by the departure of the master, or who failed to accompany his remains to their repose.
The death of Raphael was in like manner bitterly deplored by all the papal court, not only because he had held the office of chamberlain to the pope but also because Leo X had esteemed him so highly that his loss occasioned that sovereign the bitterest grief. Oh most happy and thrice-blessed spirit, of whom all are proud to speak, whose actions are celebrated with praise by all men, and the least of whose works left behind thee is admired and prized!
When this noble artist died, well might Painting have departed also, for when he closed his eyes, she too was left, as it were, blind. But now to us, whose lot is to come after him, there remains to imitate the good, or rather the excellent, of which he has left us the example, and, as our obligations to him and his great merits well deserve, to retain the most grateful remembrance of him in our hearts, while we ever maintain his memory in the highest honor with our lips. To him we owe the possession of invention, coloring, and execution, brought alike and altogether to the point of perfection for which few could have dared to hope; nor has any man ever aspired to pass before him.