Italy

Raphael, allegedly dead from too much sex

April 6, 1520
Rome, Papal States
Artist and architect Raphael dies at 37, allegedly from too much sex

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, better known as Raphael, had been somewhat known for having several lovers. His friend, a Cardinal, persuaded Raphael to take the Cardinal’s niece as his wife, though it was evident Raphael was not interested in settling down; he postponed their wedding for 6 years until the poor girl died.

Around the time of his 37th birthday, he and his long-time mistress, the daughter of a baker, had engaged in vigorous sex. He developed a fever and when he visited the doctors he did not tell them the cause of his ailment. The doctors assumed his illness was related to something else, gave him the wrong medicine, which furthered his sickness. He lingered for around fifteen days, had his last rites performed, wrote his will to ensure his mistress would be cared for, and finally died on April 6.

Whether or not his excessive sexual appetite caused or contributed to his death is debatable, though the persistent legend has ensured Raphael remained memorable (at least until his name was lent to a cool but rude Ninja Turtle). Picasso seemed especially enamored by Raphael’s legendary libido, creating several etchings of Raphael and his love in a graphic embrace, including one with fellow artist Michelangelo peeping from under the bed.


Raphael et la Fornarina XX1, Pablo Picasso, 1968

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