how does raphael show how important a figure is in school of athens
Modern reproductions of the fresco abound. For example, a full-size one can be seen in the auditorium of Old Cabell Hall at the University of Virginia. Produced in 1902 by George W. Breck to replace an older reproduction that was destroyed in a fire in 1895, it is four inches off scale from the original, because the Vatican would not allow identical reproductions of its art works. 
The School of Athens is one of a group of four main frescoes on the walls of the Stanza (those on either side centrally interrupted by windows) that depict distinct branches of knowledge. Each theme is identified above by a separate tondo containing a majestic female figure seated in the clouds, with putti bearing the phrases: “Seek Knowledge of Causes,” “Divine Inspiration,” “Knowledge of Things Divine” (Disputa), “To Each What Is Due.” Accordingly, the figures on the walls below exemplify Philosophy, Poetry (including Music), Theology, and Law.  The traditional title is not Raphael’s. The subject of the “School” is actually “Philosophy,” or at least ancient Greek philosophy, and its overhead tondo-label, “Causarum Cognitio”, tells us what kind, as it appears to echo Aristotle’s emphasis on wisdom as knowing why, hence knowing the causes, in Metaphysics Book I and Physics Book II. Indeed, Plato and Aristotle appear to be the central figures in the scene. However, all the philosophers depicted sought knowledge of first causes. Many lived before Plato and Aristotle, and hardly a third were Athenians. The architecture contains Roman elements, but the general semi-circular setting having Plato and Aristotle at its centre might be alluding to Pythagoras’ circumpunct.
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 Disputa and symbolizes philosophy, setting up a contrast between religious and lay beliefs.
Sadly during the Sack of Rome in 1527, the troops of Charles V damaged quite a bit of the School of Athens and on a quiet day in the Vatican Museums, if you get a chance to look closely at the fresco you can still today see stabbed mark graffiti on the fresco painting.
The School Of Athens by Raphael Sanzio da Urbino inside the Vatican Museums must go down as one of the most important and greatest fresco paintings in history. The painting is inside the Stanza della Segnatura on the second floor of the Vatican Palace on the north wing. The rooms were built by Pope Nicholas V in the mid-1400s and were later to become Pope Julius II’s private library after the School of Athens was completed. The painting is of a very large scale, 500cm x 770cm (200in x 300in).
Raphael used a lot of artistic ingenuity in the creation of the painting. First, he used the positions of the figures, their poses, the arrangement of the clothes, and expressions of the figures to convey their accomplishments, professions, and attitudes. Another interesting thing that Raphael did was he used modern day people as the models for the figures. For example, he used both Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo as the bodies of Plato and Heraclitus. A third way Raphael showed his artistic ingenuity was through his arrangement and layout of the painting. The figures are shown in an ellipse arrangement. Plato and Aristotle are the top of the ellipse. From there the figures circle around to create the rest of the ellipse. This created an arrangement that was symmetric and had lots of unity. Also, the use of brilliant and bright colors in the painting is characteristic of Raphael and shows his ingenuity.
The composition of The School of Athens is magnificent and incredible. The title of the painting is somewhat misleading because there is no school in the painting. Rather, the setting is a great hall with large, vaulted ceilings. In this hall there is a large grouping of the most famous and influential philosophers and scientists up to that time. These great figures are shown discussing their discoveries with one another. Large statues of the Greek gods Apollo and Athena are watching the actions of these people. This was appropriate because they were the gods of art and wisdom. In the composition, the central focus is on Plato and Aristotle. The other figures are grouped around them. Many other famous people are shown in the painting such as Pythagoras, Socrates, Euclid, and Ptolemy. Also, Raphael included his own image in the painting.
Raphael�s portrait of Pope Julius II (1511) exhibits a new quality of placing the spectator very close to the subject of the painting and revealing his inner psychological state. The spectator must be standing close enough to the seated pope to be in a position which allows him or her to be looking down at the seated man. The pope, however, does not make eye contact with the viewer, but does allow himself to be seen as an almost vulnerable man, also thoughtful, both characteristics unlike the image of the warrior he usually projected. All the same, he is surrounded by his symbols and wears his papal costume so it unites two, almost opposing conditions: formality and intimacy.
In Raphael’s painting of Pope Leo X, 1518 (which we did not look at in class), we observe the subject in a moment of frailty, reading with the aid of a magnifying glass, and we see that he is reading an illuminated manuscript about Saint John. The pope is individualized through the activity, through the book he was reading before looking up, a sign and activity which supports the public’s knowledge of him as someone committed to humanist learning, while the reference to other illuminated manuscript paintings and paintings of people reading supports an association to his commitment to art. He is further individualized through his physical appearance. In this respect, then, Raphael has united two approaches to portraits: the portrait which presented the face of the subject in great detail but left the background empty (often true of northern European portraits), and the portrait which did not give the face detail but included signs of the person�s status and position in society (generally true of the Italian portraits). Raphael gives us both.