Raphael's "School of Athens"


Raphael's "School of Athens"

edited by Marcia Hall

(Masterpieces of Western painting)

Cambridge University Press, 1997

  • : pbk

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Bibliographical references: p. 171-175

Includes index



This book examines one of the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance and the artist's best known work. Commissioned by Pope Julius II to decorate the walls of his private library, Raphael's fresco 'School of Athens' represents the gathering of the philosophers of the ancient world around the central figures of Plato and Aristotle. Presented in this volume is the early criticism of the fresco, by Bellori and Wolfflin, along with new interpretations, published in this volume for the first time, of its iconography in relation to the other frescoes in the Stanza and in the context of the humanism and rhetorical tradition of the papal court; analysis of Raphael's groundbreaking use of light and color; and an inquiry into the role of Bramante and antique architecture in Raphael's design.


  • Introduction Marcia Hall
  • 1. The image of the ancient Gymnasium of Athens, or Philosophy from Giovanni Pietro Bellori, translated by Alice Wohl (1751)
  • 2. The school of Athens Heinrich Wolfflin (1899)
  • 3. The architectural background Ralph E. Lieberman
  • 4. Color and chiaroscuro Janis Bell
  • 5. Pagans in the church: The School of Athens in religious context Timothy Verdon
  • 6. The intellectual background of the School of Athens: tracking divine wisdom in the Rome of Julius II Ingrid D. Rowland.

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