Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Raphael's School of Athens

Raphael's School of Athens is probably one of his most famous frescoes and was made on one of the walls of the Stanza della Segnatura. This painting is a study of philosophy and is depicted in classical times as shown in the architecture and the clothing of the figures. Aristotle and Plato are the two central figures of the painting and it's said that Leonardo da Vinci was most likely the inspiration for the figure of Plato. Not only are there classical philosophers, but there is also contemporary figures such as Bramante, Michelangelo, and even Raphael himself.

Rather than painting these philosophers as posed figures, Raphael decides to paint them in motion. He does a great job of painting them as they move, act, teach, debate and discuss, this makes for a greater understanding of how philosophers actually work. There was also a method to why he painted the philosophers that he did. Each figure represents a subject that must be mastered in order to hold a true philosophical debate.

We know that the figure of Heraclitus was the last figure to be added to the painting. Heraclitus was modeled after Michelangelo and it's said that Raphael decided to add him to the painting after seeing Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. The figure is shown leaning on a block of marble and writing.

Kren, Emil, Marx, Daniel. “Web Gallery of Art”. March 30, 2010

Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History: Fourteenth to Seventeenth Century Art 4. 5 vols.
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 2009.

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