Speaker: Siân Walters
1 November 2022

Raphael is often referred to as one of the three giants of the High Renaissance alongside Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, yet his career unlike theirs was short-lived as he died tragically young, aged just 37. Nevertheless, in this relatively short space of time he progressed from a series of modest initial commissions in and around his home town of Urbino to the coveted position of one of the leading artists at the court of Pope Julius II.

This lecture will explore how Raphael achieved this extraordinary rise in status, tracing the development of early works under the influence of Perugino and Pinturicchio, to encounters with Michelangelo and Leonardo in Florence, and finally an examination of later masterpieces of painting and drawing created in Rome.

Siân Walters is an art historian and the director of Art History in Focus. She has been a lecturer at the National Gallery for 20 years and taught their first online course, Stories of Art, in September 2020. She also lectures for The Wallace Collection, The Art Fund and many art societies and colleges throughout Europe, and taught at Surrey University for many years.

Her specialist areas include 15th and 16th century Italian Art, Spanish Art and Architecture, Dutch and Flemish painting and the relationship between Dance and Art (she is an honorary advisor to the Nonsuch Historical Dance Society). She studied at Cambridge University where she was awarded a choral exhibition and a 1st for her dissertation on the paintings of Arnold Schoenberg. She has lived in France and Italy where she worked for Haydn scholar H.C. Robbins in Landon and for the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice. She spends much of the year organising and leading specialist art tours abroad, including bespoke trips for The Arts Society.

In recent years Siân has been asked to represent the National Gallery at the international Hay Festival and was named a Highly Commended finalist in the World’s Best Guide Awards. In 2018 she was invited to be the guest lecturer on the inaugural BRAVO Cruise of Performing Arts alongside Katherine Jenkins, Julian Lloyd Webber and Ruthie Henshall

In 2020 she launched a series of live, online tours and visits abroad entitled Cultural Travels from Home. These include visits by special arrangement to a number of major European art galleries, allowing virtual access to their collections. Siân organised the world’s first livestream tours of the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, the Medici Palace in Florence, the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi and the Castello Sforzesco in Milan and many more. These are being offered to Arts Society groups as part of their online tours/events programme.