Decoration of the Stanze in the Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican
Raphael had a remarkable, although brief, career in Rome. The credit for having recognized and fostered his talent is shared by two popes, Julius II, of the della Rovere family, and his immediate successor, Leo X, a Medici. The two popes differed in their character, taste, culture, and political program. Yet they had a common goal: to restore ancient Rome's cultural and political importance under papal leadership.
As early as 1453 Nicholas V had begun reconstructing and extending a 13th-century building in the Vatican. Later, the Borgia pope, Alexander VI, used some of the apartments on the first floor of the north wing, and it was here that his successor, Julius II resided at the beginning of his pontificate. Towards the end of 1507 Julius decided to refurbish the second floor, the so-called Stanze, because he no longer wished to live in the apartments occupied by his predecessor, whom he detested. The artists whom Julius II commissioned to paint frescoes in the new apartments included Perugino and Sodoma. Raphael took over this work on his arrival in Rome in 1509.