Michelangelo never forgave Bramante and Raphael for what they did.
While he was away, Bramante opened up the Sistine Chapel and let his friend Raphael have a peek at the frescoes in the ceiling. Michelangelo had worked for months behind locked doors. He resented even Pope Julius’ sneak visits. Now the cat was out of the bag before the frescoes were even finished.
And so far had the cat run that Raphael quickly changed this figure of Isaiah he had been working on in the St. Agostino church and made it Michelangelo-esque.
Compare it to Michelangelo’s Isaiah on the Sistine ceiling.
When later Michelangelo saw Raphael’s Prophet he was convinced, “and rightly”, says Vasari, “that Bramante had deliberately done him that wrong for the sake of Raphael’s reputation and benefit.” To the end of his days Michelangelo put on a sour face whenever anyone praised Raphael. “Everything he knew he learned from me,” he would say.
Maybe Raphael should have refused to look at the secret ceiling. But the peek was one of the most important moments of his career. Few would have profitted so much from a visit to the chapel, before or after it was open to the public. Vasari, who must have commiserated with Michelangelo in his presence, did not put on a moralizing face when others talked of Raphael. He admired him—not least for his imitating Michelangelo and others.
Raphael loved his art so much, he says, that he was always trying to improve. Even when he had already earned a reputation as a finished master and could have gone on painting in the style he had learned as a boy with Perugino, he risked failure and the disappointment of those who admired his work by experimenting with the new styles he considered superior to his own. Few artists would have done that. Leonardo’s style “enraptured” him and he set about trying to find and imitate its secret. And when he saw Michelangelo’s figures, Raphael realized that his own were deficient and so he began to study the nude form. “What [Raphael] had seen of Michelangelo’s paintings,” says Vasari, “enabled him to give his own style more majesty and grandeur.
“…..Nevertheless, Raphael realized that in this matter he could never rival the accomplishments of Michelangelo, and therefore, like the judicious man he was….he resolved to emulate and perhaps surpass him in other respects….He decided not to waste his time by imitating Michelangelo’s style but to attain a catholic excellence in the other fields of painting.”