raphaels the school of athens
But just what does this famous painting mean? Let’s look at what the iconic The School of Athens meant for Raphael as an artist and how it’s become such a symbol of the Renaissance. At the time, a commission by the pope was the apex of any artist’s career. For Raphael, it was validation of an already burgeoning career.
Long thought to be a portrait of Michelangelo himself, the brooding nature would have matched the artist’s character. In the realm of philosophers, he is Heraclitus, a self-taught pioneer of wisdom. He was a melancholy character and did not enjoy the company of others, making him one of the few isolated characters in the fresco.
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 Stanza della Segnatura was the first of the rooms to be decorated, and The School of Athens, representing philosophy, was probably the third painting to be finished there, after La Disputa (Theology) on the opposite wall, and the Parnassus (Literature).  The picture has long been seen as “Raphael’s masterpiece and the perfect embodiment of the classical spirit of the Renaissance”.  The painting is notable for its accurate perspective projection. 
The identities of some of the philosophers in the picture, such as Plato and Aristotle, are certain. Beyond that, identifications of Raphael’s figures have always been hypothetical. To complicate matters, beginning from Vasari’s efforts, some have received multiple identifications, not only as ancients but also as figures contemporary with Raphael. Vasari mentions portraits of the young Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, leaning over Bramante with his hands raised near the bottom right, and Raphael himself. 
Raphael moved to Rome in the year 1508 at the age of 25 thanks to a distant relative named Bermante who influenced Pope Julius II on political and artistic matters and who recommended Raphael to the Pope. Bramante was also the architect for the new St. Peter’s Basilica. Raphael was almost instantly put to work to fresco paint the walls of the Vatican Palace which was then Pope Julius II’s private quarters. Part of these commissions was to paint The School Of Athens which the Pope was so impressed by that he had Raphael paint the whole of the Stanza Della Segnatura.
Raphael modeled a lot of these figures on actual people that he knew or met, some of whom are major figures in art history today. Plato, for example, has the clear likeness of Leonardo Da Vinci who Raphael knew. In fact, Raphael may even have been one of the first people to see Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Introduction Marcia Hall
1. The image of the ancient Gymnasium of Athens, or Philosophy from Giovanni Pietro Bellori, translated by Alice Wohl (1751)
2. The school of Athens Heinrich Wolfflin (1899)
3. The architectural background Ralph E. Lieberman
4. Color and chiaroscuro Janis Bell
5. Pagans in the church: The School of Athens in religious context Timothy Verdon
6. The intellectual background of the School of Athens: tracking divine wisdom in the Rome of Julius II Ingrid D. Rowland.
This title is not currently available on inspection
The School of Athens is a depiction of philosophy. The scene takes place in classical times, as both the architecture and the garments indicate. Figures representing each subject that must be mastered in order to hold a true philosophic debate – astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, and solid geometry – are depicted in concrete form. The arbiters of this rule, the main figures, Plato and Aristotle, are shown in the centre, engaged in such a dialogue.
If in the Dispute, the central axis contains all the primary components of the meaning, in its counterpart on the opposite wall – The School of Athens – the emphasis is on a horizontal reading, and the main figures, located on the top of the short stairs, are strung out like an animated frieze. Such a distribution is related to the fact that in this fresco the stress is on earthly zones rather than on otherworldly ones so characteristic of its analogue. In the case of the Disputa, the golden tonalities reflect theological and spiritual values i n connection with the miraculous nature of the Eucharist; these are in contrast to the clear blues and whites and the crisp, charged atmosphere that characterizes The School of Athens. This is a realm where the power of philosophy and reason, as opposed to faith, seems to dominate.