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The School of Athens (Italian: Scuola di Atene) is a fresco by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael.It was painted between 1509 and 1511 as a part of Raphael's commission to decorate the rooms now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.
The School of Athens is the fresco in one of the four Raphael Rooms which form a suite of reception rooms, now part of the Vatican Museums in Vatican City. Together with Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel Ceiling frescoes, they are the grand fresco sequences that mark the High Renaissance in Rome.
Raphael, detail of Pythagoras, School of Athens, 1509-1511, fresco (Stanza della Segnatura, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican) Pythagoras (lower left) believed that the world (including the movement of the planets and stars) operated according to mathematical laws.
- Stanza Della Segnatura
- The School of Athens
- Who Are The Figures in The School of Athens?
In the 15th century, a tradition of decorating private libraries with portraits of great thinkers was common. Raphael took the idea to a whole new level with massive compositions that reflected philosophy, theology, literature, and jurisprudence. Read as a whole, they immediately transmitted the intellect of the pope and would have sparked discussion between cultured minds that were lucky enough to enter into this private space. The School of Athens was the third painting Raphael completed after Disputa (representing theology) and Parnassus (representing literature). It’s positioned facing Disputaand symbolizes philosophy, setting up a contrast between religious and lay beliefs. Take a virtual tourof the Stanza della Segnatura via the Vatican Museums website.
Set in an immense architectural illusion painted by Raphael, The School of Athensis a masterpiece that visually represents an intellectual concept. In one painting, Raphael used groupings of figures to lay out a complex lesson on the history of philosophy and the different beliefs that were developed by the great Greek philosophers. Raphael certainly would have been privy to private showings of the Sistine Chapel in progress that were arranged by Bramante. Though Raphael’s work, in many ways, could be seen as more complex due to the number of figures placed in one scene, he certainly was influenced by the great artist’s work. This is particularly evident by the long figure thinking in the foreground, as we’ll soon see. In fact, modern influence seeps in more frequently than one would think, particularly when it comes to the faces used for certain figures in The School of Athens. Let’s take a look, group by group, to pick apart the concept and see who appears in the famous fresco.
Plato and Aristotle
The two main figures in the work are placed directly under the archway and in the fresco’s vanishing point, a compositional trick to draw the viewer’s eye to the most important part of the painting. Here, we see two men who effectively represent the different schools of philosophy—Plato and Aristotle. An elderly Plato stands at the left, pointing his finger to the sky. Beside him is his student Aristotle. In a display of superb foreshortening, Aristotle reaches his right arm directly out towa...
To the left of Plato, Socrates is recognizable thanks to his distinct features. It’s said that Raphael was able to use an ancient portrait bust of the philosopher as his guide. He’s also identified by his hand gesture, as pointed out by Giorgio Vasari in Lives of the Artists. “Even the Manner of Reasoning of Socrates is Express’d: he holds the Fore-finger of his left hand between that, and the Thumb of his Right, and seems as if he was saying You grant me This and This.” Among the crowd surro...
In the foreground, Pythagoras sits with a book and an inkwell, also surrounded by students. Though Pythagoras is well known for his mathematical and scientific discoveries, he also firmly believed in metempsychosis. This philosophy states that every soul is immortal, and upon death, moves to a new physical body. In this light, it makes sense that he would be placed on Plato’s side of the fresco.
The School of Athens painting by Raphael is in the first of the four Raphael Rooms in the Stanza della Signatura in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City, which is part of the Vatican Museums. What type of painting is the School of Athens?
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Raphael’s greatest work, School of Athens (1508–11), was painted in the Vatican at the same time that Michelangelo was working on the Sistine Chapel. In this large fresco Raphael brings together representatives of the Aristotelian and Platonic schools of thought. Instead of the densely packed, turbulent surface of…
The School of Athens painting depicts the greatest scientists, mathematicians and philosophers from classical antiquity. Although these honorable individuals lived at different times, they are all seen together in the painting, which is more of a fantasy.
Dec 09, 2020 · Raphael’s (Raffaelo Sanzio) most well-known masterpiece is The School of Athens. Commissioned in 1508, the fresco is part of the decoration of a suite of four rooms in the Pontifical Palace in the Vatican— now known as Raphael’s Rooms. What significance does this 500-year-old fresco have, which presents so many thinkers, for us as artists?
School of Athens refers to a famous fresco painted by Raphael in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. The fresco was painted between 1510 and 1511 and is one of four frescoes painted by Raphael in the rooms now known as the Stanze di Raffaello.
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