Raphael’s School of Athens
The School of Athens expresses the humanistic ideals of the Renaissance period. Humanism was a cultural and intellectual movement in literature, art, and civilization during the Renaissance that emphasized the rediscovery of the values of ancient Greece and Rome. Raphael displays many of the most influential writers and philosophers of his time. He places these figures in his composition in such a way that reflects many of the views and politics involved in the Renaissance. The lens through which Raphael sees these famous personages provides his interpretation of these most complex individuals that glorified the world as it was ...view middle of the document...
The figures that interact throughout the piece appear to be the mature philosophers who are teaching the younger ones; this scene demonstrates the Renaissance notion that the ideas from antiquity should be taught to the young from a more modern period. The middle aged thinkers are being instructed, and are engrossed in conversation with their elder comrades. This idea of the modern thinkers of the Renaissance learning from classical society greatly characterized the Renaissance period. On the right side of the scene Ptolemy and Zoroash are holding globes while interacting with each other. One holds a globe displaying the Earth, while the other holds a globe that displays the constellations. The globe of the Earth and the man holding it symbolizes man and science, while the constellations symbolize man’s relation to the universe and the divine. This connection and interaction between these two schools of thought and the intellectuals studying them demonstrates the association between intellect and religion, and how the two were interconnected during this period. Raphael employs a number of artistic techniques to draw his viewer’s attention to the relationship between the intellectuals of the classical and Renaissance period.
Raphael was able to draw his viewer’s attention to the figures in the painting by the arch that towers over them, and attracts even greater attention to the most important intellectuals in the painting, Plato and Aristotle, by the blue sky that is seen in through the arch in the background. The arch in the foreground frames the figures within the painting, while the arches and blue sky in the background focuses the viewer’s attention to the most prominent intellectuals depicted in the fresco. Raphael created a composition that is constructed from vertical and horizontal planes. One example of a vertical plane are the erect columns and the figures. The two big statues that stand on both ends of the painting emphasize this vertical plane effect. The steps create the horizontal plane, as well as the horizontal line created by the heads of the figures who stand on the top level of this painting. The picture appears to be wholly self-contained by the architecture of the building they are interacting in. This closed arrangement communicates a feeling of balance and stability by creating a feeling...