Raphael is best known for his "Madonnas," including the Sistine Madonna, and for his large figure compositions in the Palace of the Vatican in Rome. In 1504 Raphael moved to Florence, Italy, where he was heavily influenced by the works of the Italian painters Fra Bartolommeo, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Masaccio. By closely studying the details of their work, Raphael managed to develop an even more intricate and expressive personal style, that was more seen in his earlier paintings
By 1514, Raphael had achieved fame for his work at the Vatican and was able to hire a crew of assistants to help him finish painting frescoes in the Stanza dell’Incendio, freeing him up to focus on other projects. While Raphael continued to accept commissions -- including portraits of popes Julius II and Leo X -- and his largest painting on canvas, The Transfiguration he had by this time begun to work on architecture. After architect Donato Bramante died in 1514, the pope hired Raphael as his chief architect. Under this appointment, Raphael created the design for a chapel in Sant’ Eligio degli Orefici. He also designed Rome’s Santa Maria del Popolo Chapel and an area within Saint Peter’s new basilica. Raphael’s architectural work was not limited to religious buildings. It also extended to designing palaces.
Raphael moved to Rome to paint in the Vatican "Stanze", under Pope Julius II. From 1509 to 1511, Raphael toiled over what was to become one of the Italian High Renaissance’s most highly regarded fresco cycles, those located in the Vatican's Stanza della Segnatura. The Stanza della Segnatura series of frescos include The Triumph of Religion and The School of Athens.
In the years to come, Raphael painted an additional fresco cycle for the Vatican, located in the Stanza d'Eliodoro, featuring The Expulsion of Heliodorus, The Miracle of Bolsena, The Repulse of Attila from Rome and The Liberation of Saint Peter. During this same time, Raphael produced a successful series of "Madonna" paintings in his own art studio. The famed Madonna of the Chair and Sistine Madonna were among them.