The School of Athens by Raphael



The School of Athens was painted by Raphael over the years 1509-1510 during the Italian Renaissance in Vatican City.  This painting is a great example of how humanism was depicted in paintings in Italy during this time period.  It harkens back to ancient Greece and focuses on the many famous people from there.  Depicted in the painting is Plato, Aristotle, Polotinus, and many other famous Greeks.  The people are what is important in the painting.  The statues, of what I assume are Greek gods or deities of some kind, fade into the background and all that is left to draw the attention are the bright, vibrant colors of the people.  Also, notice that all of the people are doing something with their hands or contorting their bodies in some way to get a better look at something.  Even the person in the middle of the painting, believed to depict Diogenes of Sinope, is stretched into a unique shape while reading.  This is also a link back to humanism in that it allowed Raphael to focus on the anatomical movement of the human body.

I feel that this painting is just Raphael paying tribute to all those that came before him.  These are the minds that shaped the world according to him.  As you get closer to the center of the painting the more important the person according to Raphael until you get to the center of the painting and there stands Plato, who founded the academy that this painting is based on, and Aristotle, Plato’s most famous student.  One interesting part of the painting is that Raphael included himself in this painting of giants.  He is the young man with the brown hat all of the way to the right hand side of the painting.  This shows that Raphael knew that he himself was a great artist but, there were many people that he felt were more important than himself.



“The School of Athens (Raphael)” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 28 May 2014

Raphael’s School of Athens. Vatican Museums.  Vatican Museums Management.

The School of Athens, “Who is Who?” Puzzle.


3 thoughts on “The School of Athens by Raphael

  1. Raphael was pushed by his father at a young age, to paint, or be involved in the arts. He had many supporters including Popes, and Julius the Caesar of Rome. The painting The School of Athens is very detailed, it isn’t my favorite piece from Raphael, though all of his work is amazing. I like the structure of your blog, and that you chose Raphael. One thing missing, is I couldn’t find the connection to Raphael’s influences. Although, you did a very good job on your blog.

  2. This is an interesting painting of the Renaissance. Each person is detailed and you can’t tell that Raphael spent some time perfecting this mural. Its interesting how humanism allowed Raphael to focus on anatomical movement of the human body.

  3. I thought you did a great job on your blog post. I found your connection to humanism very enlightening. When first looking at the piece, I didn’t think of how the gods were in the background and the people were in the foreground and what that represented. This is a great, but subtle connection to humanism! Also, it is interesting that you saw noticed the positioning and posture of the people and the gods. What I saw first in this painting is the linear perspective of the piece. Although your analysis was great, I just can’t help but marvel at how realistic the perspective is drawn in this piece of work! Overall, great work and great choice in artwork!

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