Famous Artwork: The School of Athens

The School of Athens is a painting by Italian renaissance artist Raffaello Sanzio.


The School of Athens is a world famous painting done by a 25-year-old Italian artist, Raffaello Sanzio, created in the early 16th century at the request of Pope Julius II. The painting is regarded as one of the greatest pieces of art.

Background of Raffaello Sanzio

Raffaello Sanzio, a renaissance artist, was fondly referred to simply as Raphael by his peers. He was born in April 1483 in an Italian city known for its skilled artists. Raphael learned painting from his father, who was a famous court painter of the 15th century. Raphael's his mother died when he turned eight, and his father died when he was eleven. He was brought up by his uncle, Bartolommeo. Raphael showed his prowess in painting from a tender age. He sharpened his skills by working for Pietro Perugino, a renowned artist at the time. Even at a young age, Raphael was a highly sought after artist. He did numerous paintings for churches, such as the Baronci altarpiece and the Mond Crucifixion. In 1509, Pope Julius II summoned Raphael to the Vatican where he was given one of his greatest assignments. He was commissioned to decorate the Pope’s private library.

When Was the Painting Created?

Raphael’s task of decorating the Stanza Della Segnatura, a room in the Vatican palace, began in 1509. He painted three pieces on the walls of the room, each piece representing a branch of knowledge. His first painting was La Disputa, which represented theology. The School of Athens was his second piece in the Stanza Della Segnatura, which represented Greek philosophy. He worked on it for three years from 1509 to 1511.

Legacy of The School of Athens

The School of Athens is a masterpiece and a spectacular painting. It is a fresco, meaning it was done on a freshly plastered wall. It shows all of the great Greek philosophers of ancient times. Although there are divergent views on the identities of the philosophers in the picture, there is no dispute about the inclusion of Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, and Socrates. Plato and Aristotle are featured at the center of the painting and each hold a book. The other philosophers in the painting appear to be in heated arguments. The enormous artwork includes four intricately drawn arches which provide depth and perspective to the painting. Raphael’s fresco was a success as soon as it was completed. Its cohesive theme and overall beauty was appreciated by Vatican authorities, art collectors, and other artists.

Current Location of The School of Athens

After many years of existence, the painting began to deteriorate. It was carefully restored in 1996 and put on display. Currently, the art piece sits in the Vatican Museum where it can be viewed by the public. The financial value of The School of Athens is unknown. and Mona Lisa done by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Significance of The School of Athens

There is no dispute that The School of Athens is an outstanding piece of art from the 16th century. The painting is so important that it shares prominence with other great pieces such as The Last Supper and Mona Lisa done by Leonardo Da Vinci.


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