The School of Athens

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Biography of Raphael
"While we may term other works paintings, those of Raphael are living things; the flesh

palpitates, the breath comes and goes, every organ lives, life pulsates everywhere."

-- Vasari

Raphael was born Raffaello Santi or Raffaello Sanzio in Urbino on April 6, 1483, and received his early training in art from his father, the painter Giovanni Santi. In 1499 he went to Perugia, in Umbria, and became a student and assistant of the painter Perugino. Raphael imitated his master closely; their paintings of this period are executed in styles so similar that art historians have found it difficult to determine which were painted by Raphael. In 1504 Raphael moved to Florence, where he studied the work of such established painters of the time as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, learning their methods of representing the play of light and shade, anatomy, and dramatic action. In 1508 Raphael was called to Rome by Pope Julius II and commissioned to execute frescoes in four small stanze, or rooms, of the Vatican Palace. The second Vatican chamber, the Stanza d'Eliodoro, painted with the aid of Raphael's assistants, contains scenes representing the triumph of the Roman Catholic church over its enemies. After the death of Pope Julius II in 1513, and the accession of Leo X, Raphael's influence and responsibilities increased. He was made chief architect of Saint Peter's Basilica in 1514, and a year later was appointed director of all the excavations of antiquities in and near Rome. Raphael died in Rome on his 37th birthday, April 6, 1520.

School of Athens

Brief History:
Raphael painted the School of Athens from-1510 – 1512. He was commissioned by pope Julius II, with the recommendation of Donato Bramante, the pope's architect, to work in the Vatican. His first work the School of Athens was loved so much by the pope that he commissioned Raphael to paint the entire papal suite. In the School of Athens, philosophers and intellects from different time periods are arranged as students in a school or academy where everyone is learning off each other. The Stanza della Segnatura was to be Julius' library which would house a small collection of books intended for his personal use. The walls of the first room, the Stanza della Segnatura, are decorated with scenes elaborating ideas suggested by personifications of Theology, Philosophy, and Poetry which appear on the ceiling. On the wall under Theology is the Disputà, representing a group discussing the mystery of the Trinity. The famous School of Athens, on the wall beneath Philosophy, portrays an open architectural space in which Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient philosophers are engaged in discourse. On the wall under Poetry is the Parnassus, in which the Greek god Apollo appears surrounded by the Muses and the great poets. (Paoletti, 347) Others describe the frescoes in the Stanze as "related to three fundamental ideas of Christian Platonism, The True, The Good and The Beautiful. The Disputa corresponds to theological or revealed truth, and the School of Athens to philosophical or rational truth; the frescoes of the Virtues, canon law and civil law correspond to the Good; and the Parnassus to the Beautiful." (Daley, 114)

The Intellects:

In the center of the painting is Plato on the left and Aristotle on the right. These two are showing the two parts within philosophy, Timaeus and Ethics. The other philosophers on the sides are ‘corresponding to the separate schools of thought within the two major divisions, each carrying on the philosophical arguments for which they were famous (Fleming, 304). Plato: (428-c. 347 BC) was a Greek philosopher and one of the most creative and influential thinkers in Western philosophy. Plato founded the Academy in Athens, the institution often described as the first European university. It provided a comprehensive curriculum, including such subjects as astronomy, biology, mathematics, political theory, and...
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