The young Raphael arrived in Florence with a letter of recommendation from the daughter of the Duke of Montefeltro. At the beginning of the 1500s the city was enjoying a moment of incredible artistic and cultural vigour, and here Raphael was able to encounter the techniques that Leonardo and Michelangelo were deploying. In 1504, Leonardo was working on the sketches for the Battle of Anghiari, while that very same summer Michelangelo’s David was hoisted in front of the Palazzo della Signoria. In short, Raphael found himself surrounded by the great masters.
Raphael stayed in Florence for four years or so, leaving in 1508. During that time he produced portraits, sacred works, and Madonnas, not least the Madonna of the Goldfinch and the Esterhazy Madonna. Even if we do not know where he lived or where his workshop was, it is easy to imagine the artist wandering the historic centre, around the Uffizi and the Palazzo della Signoria.
He left Florence abruptly at the end of 1508 and went to Rome, having received an important commission from Pope Julius II.