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.