Raphael and The School of Athens

            Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (March 28, 1483 – April 6, 1520) or better known as Raphael along with Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo form the triumvirate of great High Renaissance artists.  His father, Giovanni Santi, was the court painter to the Duke of Urbino.  Growing up as part of the Duke’s court, he gained social skills and refinement that carried over into his art. “Raphael’s compositions are notable for their clarity, harmony and unity of design.” [Fiero 200]   

            Pope Julius II, in 1510, commissioned Raphael to paint a series of frescos for the pope’s personal library, Stanza della Segnatura.  The frescos were to represent the four domains of human knowledge, theology, philosophy, law and the arts.  Philosophy was represented by Raphael’s masterpiece, The School of Athens (1509- 1510, Fresco, 500 cm x 770 cm, Vatican City). 

In the center of the vanishing point of the painting walking towards us are the two great Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle. The scene is that of a Roman basilica and resembles the newly renovated Saint Peter’s Cathedral.  On both sides of the painting appear the great historical thinkers.  “In the restrained nobility of the near life-sized figures and the measured symmetry of the composition, Raphael’s School of Athens marked the culmination of a style that had begun with Giotto and Masaccio; here, Raphael gave concrete vision to a world purged of accident and emotion.” [Ferro 201]  This masterpiece “…epitomize[s] the Grand Style: spatial clarity, decorum (that is propriety and good taste), balance, unity of design, and grace.” [Ferro 201]

Works Cited

Fiero, Gloria K. Landmarks in Humanities. 2nd ed. 2006. New York: McGraw Hill, 2009. Print.


2 Responses to “Raphael and The School of Athens”

  1. Chris Ayan Says:

    I really like this painting, it reminds me of DaVinci for some reason. Thanks for all the info, it really helped me gain a better understanding of the piece.

  2. Olivia Spadlowski Says:

    I had never seen his self portrait before. I like how you did a brief bibliography on the artist.

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