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Raphael’s The School Of Athens: Classical Philosophers In A Renaissance Work

1232 words - 5 pages

The European Renaissance was the time period after the Dark Ages. In the Renaissance, radical new ideas like humanism and individualism took foot. Also, art and science were re-embraced for the first time in Europe since classical times. Art in the Renaissance became much more realistic and advanced using new techniques such as chiaroscuro (using high contrast to add depth to a painting), foreshortening (adjusting line length and angle to make 2-D objects look 3-D), and much more accurate perspective. The new art represented the new ideas of the Renaissance because where Gothic style art showed things in Theological perspective and had little to do with anything other than religion, Renaissance art represented new, more secular ideas by showing things in literal perspective and often had non-religious subjects. Raphael was a High Renaissance painter and architect. He was born on April 6, 1483, in Urbino, Italy. He died on April 6, 1520, in Rome. (EBO) He lived a very successful life, and had many great works. Perhaps one of his most famous is The School of Athens. It is a fresco located in a papal apartment he designed, surrounded by other frescoes he painted. It was painted in between 1508 and 1511 for Pope Julius II. (EBO) Many artistic scholars consider it to be the best representation of the High Renaissance in a single work. It represents the new mindset of the Renaissance so well because it shows philosophers debating science and religion openly, wearing classical clothing, and in a setting thought to be a part of the Roman Forum. All the figures in the fresco have their own unique face, and are doing something different.
The School of Athens shows many both philosophers and average folk talking and debating about new ideas. The fresco shows 54 different people. They are standing in a large open-air building that is believed to be the now-destroyed Basilica of Constantine in Rome. (Graham-Dixon, 181) The fresco is 500 × 770 cm. (SME) There are a several places in the fresco where Raphael was trying to say something with the subjects. All around the fresco, we see people engulfed in debates and heated conversation, showing that being a thinker like Raphael was can be a social profession. However, he also shows some of the people in the fresco totally wrapped up in books, and some of the people look frustrated and sad. Raphael shows us that being a thinker can often be lonely and can make one extremely frustrated. (Graham-Dixon, 183) In the right side of the fresco, we see a face poking out from the crowd. This face is Raphael’s own, and putting a small self-portrait in the fresco is a stylized was of signing it. When the Renaissance started, people tried to rediscover classical ideas. They saw the incredible buildings that the ancient Romans had built, and they wanted to recreate them. However, they didn’t know where to begin. In the dark ages, nearly all the new ideas that Classical thinkers had found were lost. In the Renaissance, people...

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