the school of athens people

The school of athens people
Finally, according to Giorgio Vasari, the scene includes Raphael himself, the Duke of Mantua, Zoroaster and some Evangelists. [6]
Other reproductions include: in Königsberg Cathedral, Kaliningrad by Neide, [26] in the University of North Carolina at Asheville’s Highsmith University Student Union, and a recent one in the seminar room at Baylor University’s Brooks College. A copy of Raphael’s School of Athens was painted on the wall of the ceremonial stairwell that leads to the famous, main-floor reading room of the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève in Paris.

The school of athens people
Assumed to be inspired by Michelangelo’s work of Jeremiah (Chapelle Sixtine, finished 1511?) (Like the melancholic Heraclitus Jeremiah is known from his Lamentations: “He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, and not into light”). But also Michelangelo liked to be alone and although he obtained from the Pope much more money for his work than any other artist he was a scrooge.

Study on the ” School of Athens ”

The school of athens people
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.
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.”

The school of athens people
Of course, there were men and women who had a great deal of practical understanding of the natural world. Without such practical know-how, there would have been no agriculture, no medicine, no building of roads, bridges, ships or churches. However, the skills and knowledge needed to plant crops, compound herbs into drug, and to build even elaborate structures like aqueducts or Gothic cathedrals were valued less than abstract, pure mathematics and geometry. One striking example of this devaluation of practical know-how is the ability of Roman engineers to make concrete that would set underwater, and that would withstand the constant buffeting of waves and corrosion of salt water. Many of these structures are still standing today, some 2000 years after they were built. This article from last year on The History Channel website describes how modern researchers, using sophisticated forms of chemical analysis, have begun to piece together the composition of this concrete and to understand how Roman engineers accomplished this remarkable feat. And another piece from this year on the Archaeology News Network describes modern scientific analyses of Roman concrete that have helped elucidate why the stuff has proved so durable. Why don’t we already know how the Romans did this? Because the techniques were never written down (or, if they were, these texts were not preserved). This kind of knowledge of the natural world (what we might call “materials science”) was simply not seen as important enough to write down and preserve generation after generation. The works of Aristotle, Plato, and Euclid were.
Quite remarkably, Raphael painted HIMSELF among the great philosophers of the ancient world. There he is, just to the right of Ptolemy. The older man to Raphael’s right may be his teacher. Raphael is on the very edge of the painting, and indeed, artists were only just coming to be accepted as intellectuals in their own right, on par with philosophers. But he looks directly out at the viewer, a sign of pride and confidence.

The school of athens people
On either side of Plato or Aristotle are the main thinkers of the classical world. The philosophers, poets and abstract thinkers are allied on Plato’s side. The physical scientists and more empirical thinkers are on the side of Aristotle. Only a few of the ancient thinkers in School of Athens can be identified definitely.
There is a great deal of conjecture concerning the solitary Heraclitus figure. Heraclitus was the only figure in the whole School of Athens who was absent from Raphael’s preliminary drawing of the painting. Furthermore, technical examination of the fresco confirms that Heraclitus was painted in later, on an area of fresh plaster put on after the adjacent figures were completed. At the time of painting the School of Athens, Michelangelo was working on the Sistine Chapel and despite his efforts to shroud his work in total secrecy, we know Raphael was able to sneak in and have a look. Was this the inspiration for Heraclitus, who not only looks like Michelangelo, with its sculptural solidity, but looks like it was painted by Michelangelo?

References:

http://www.hellenicaworld.com/Greece/Science/en/SchoolAthens.html
http://mymodernmet.com/school-of-athens-raphael/
http://beforenewton.blog/daily-readings/august-19/
http://www.artble.com/artists/raphael/paintings/school_of_athens
http://mymodernmet.com/school-of-athens-raphael/

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