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Raphael - The School of Athens

by Alexandra Tuschka

Aristotle and Plato are coming towards us in the middle! Aristotle holds the Ethics in his hands, Plato the Timaeus. Below left one sees Pythagoras, who makes geometrical sketches. All sorts of intellectual poets, thinkers and scientists cavort here, brought to life posthumously in this fresco by the Italian Raphael. The hall in which they are located comes from a design by Bramante for the new building of Saint Peter. Under the wide and clear arches, the people divide into 7 different groups, all personifying the artes liberales. These are: Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy.

Not all persons are clearly identified today. Raphael also gave some ancient persons the appearance of his esteemed contemporaries; for example, in the pensive philosopher Heraclitus leaning forward on a block of marble, he portrayed his fellow painter Michelangelo. By this equation the artist emphasizes at the same time the intellectual equality of the artists of the Renaissance with the highly praised antiquity. Plato, in the center of the picture, on the other hand, has similarities with Leonardo da Vinci. Raphael also integrated a self-portrait on the right edge of the picture. This fresco hangs in the Vatican Museum in Rome and is one of the most important in the world.

Raphael - The School of Athens

Fresco, 1510 - 1511, width: 770 cm, Vatican Museum in Rome


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