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"And I tell you that to paint one beautiful woman, I should need to see several beautiful women, and to have you with me to choose the best," wrote Raphael, then at the zenith of his fame and good fortune, to his life-long friend Count Baldassare Castiglione, who—the10 ideal courtier himself—has given the world that immortal monument of Renaissance culture, the Book of the Courtier. In penning these lines the prince of painters intended, perhaps, no more than a pretty compliment to one who was himself a model of courtesy and graceful speech, but the words would gain deep significance if picture were substituted for woman, and if Castiglione were taken to signify the personification of intellect and learning. For the beauty of Raphael's art, which in the course of four centuries has lost none of its hold upon the admiration of mankind, is distilled from the various elements of beauty contained in the art that had gone before him and was being created around him; and in choosing the best, at least as far as idea and conception are concerned, he was guided by the deepest thinkers and keenest intellects of what were then the world's greatest centres of culture.