Final Decision: An Analysis for the Raphael's School Of Athens:
"The School Of Athens is celebrating the rational search for truth." (Cocke-102).Raphael (1483-1520) both displayed his talent to decorate the private library of Pope J Julius 2 in Vatican and his intellectual mind to create this fresco (Fresco is a picture that painted on a wall while the plaster is still wet or the method of painting this way (Oxford Dictionary).
Raphael set up Plato and Aristotle in the centre of the painting. One can recognize them from their books: Plato is holding Timaeus and Aristotle is holding Ethics. At the central organization Raphael used horizontal lines and at the bottom and from the middle to top part of the fresco vertical lines are started to show up. Usage of geometric space gives a realistic view of perspective. "Bramante, the High Renaissance architect, designed the lay out of the back ground of School of Athens" (Acton-31). The hexagons and the squires which are at the ceiling and at the floor demonstrate the order by abstract ideas. The light occurs from the top right of the painting and it effects all the figures and the architecture. The change of tones and the balance in the usage of the colors according to the direction of the light supports the realistic sight of the fresco.
The School of Athens has also represents the seven liberal arts: In the left foreground grammar, arithmetic and music; in the right geometry and astronomy; at the top of the stairs rhetoric and dialectic. Raphael displayed these arts by using symbols and these symbols are usually distinguished by the figures in the fresco: "Socrates to the left of the two central figures, making conversations with a group of young man: Xelophone and Alcibiades; on the extreme left is Zeno with a baby holding Epicurus, crowned with vine-leaves, is reading; Pythagoras is seated further to the right in the foreground, making notes in a book while Telauges hold a tablet for him; leaning over Pythagoras's shoulder Aver Hoes is wearing a white turban. Heraclitus rests his elbow on a large block; Diogenes is stretched out on the steps; the man who stands next to Heraclitus, pointing to a open book which rests on his knee, has been variously identified as Parmenides. In the right Euclid surrounded by his disciples, bends over to measure a geometric figure with a compass; behind him is Zoroaster holding a globe of the heavens and Ptolemy. In the niches on each of the first great architecture are status Apollo and Minerva, both of which were directly inspired by classical prototypes" (Cocke-102). Men of the past is closely linked to the present in a series of portraits of the famous contemporaries of that time: Plato has the features of Leonardo; Heraclitus is Michelangelo; Euclid is Bramante; the young man behind Epicurus is Federico Gonzaga; Raphael himself portrayed next to Somada, as the young man with a black beret.
All throughout these figures in the fresco two of them stands out by blue color of the sky with the usage of aerial perspective and the vanishing point up between their heads. They are Plato and Aristotle. "Plato is holding Timaeus, points upwards to the heaven and Aristotle is holding the Ethics stretches his arm out with the palm of his hand turned down towards the earth" (Coche-102). Raphael shows the most complex ideas by simple gestures. Plato and Aristotle stand out for the final decision on the way of searching the truth. One has the right to choose to go elsewhere, to heaven (as a religious way of look), to the ideal world (as a philosophical way of look) with Plato's option or choose to stay on earth with Aristotle's option and try to find the answers here.
All Painting of Raphael (Page 102-103) Richard Cocke.
Raphael (Page 89-90) Leopard D. and Helen S. Ettlinger.
Learning to look at paintings (Page 31-33) Mary Acton.
You my fine sir, and quite the thinker. This is a great piece that anyone (like myself) that is amused with, or has interest in, historic accounts of knowledge handed down through art would love. Though I am still a student the studies of great men like Plato, reading topics like this allows me to spread my research farther into a never-ending spiral of philosophy. Thank you for posting this, it was truly an interesting read!