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Raphael Rooms, Rome

Overview

Raphael Rooms ("Stanze di Raffaello" in Italian) are four rooms, which were originally part of the apartment of Pope Julius II. Possibly intending to outshine his predecessor, Pope Alexander VI who decorated his Borgia Apartment, located exactly below, Pope Julius II commissioned Raphael, a relatively unknown young artist then, to decorate the rooms. Raphael started working in 1508, and when the Pope died in 1513, two rooms were still unfinished. His successor, Pope Leo X, continued the project, but in 1520 Raphael himself died of an acute illness, and his assistants Gianfrancesco Penni, Giulio Romano and Raffaellino del Colle completed the last unfinished room, Sala di Costantino ("Room of Constantine"). In the frescoes the characters are painted using faces of real people around them for inspiration. Thus, Raphael and Michelangelo themselves appear in "School of Athens", Leonardo da Vinci as Plato, Bramante, who was Raphael's friend and the architect of Saint Peter's, as Euclid and so on. The rooms are, as going through the apartment:

'Stanza della Segnatura' ('Room of the Segnatura')
'Stanza della Segnatura' ('Room of the Segnatura')

Photo by 0ro1 on Wikimedia Commons

The School of Athens

Plato holding his book, "Timaeus"; portrait of Leonardo da Vinci

Aristotle holding his book, "Nichomachean Ethics"

Apeles; Raphael's auto portrait, with black hat

Heraclitus, a portrait of Michelangelo

Pythagoras, famous Greek philosopher and mathematician, reading from a book and surrounded by his students

Epicurus, ancient Greek philosopher

Socrates, classical Greek philosopher

Euclid, the "father of geometry", with a compass; it is believed to be a portrait of Bramante, famous Italian architect and Raphael's friend

Diogenes, famous Greek philosopher

Ptolemy, Greek mathematician, astronomer, geographer and astrologer, holding a globe of the Earth in his hand

Zoroaster (Zarathustra), ancient Iranian prophet, religious reformer and spiritual leader, holding the celestial globe

Plato holding his book, "Timaeus"; portrait of Leonardo da Vinci

Aristotle holding his book, "Nichomachean Ethics"

Apeles; Raphael's auto portrait, with black hat

Heraclitus, a portrait of Michelangelo

Pythagoras, famous Greek philosopher and mathematician, reading from a book and surrounded by his students

Epicurus, ancient Greek philosopher

Socrates, classical Greek philosopher

Euclid, the "father of geometry", with a compass; it is believed to be a portrait of Bramante, famous Italian architect and Raphael's friend

Diogenes, famous Greek philosopher

Ptolemy, Greek mathematician, astronomer, geographer and astrologer, holding a globe of the Earth in his hand

Zoroaster (Zarathustra), ancient Iranian prophet, religious reformer and spiritual leader, holding the celestial globe

The School of Athens

Photo by Paul 012 on Wikimedia Commons

Liberation of St Peter
Liberation of St Peter

Disputation of the Holy Sacrament
Disputation of the Holy Sacrament

The Fire in the Borgo
The Fire in the Borgo

The frescoes in the four rooms are notable for their accurate perspective projection, as Raphael is considered a virtuoso of composition, drawing and perspective. The frescoes are considered among the most representative pieces of the High Renaissance, the short period of the exceptional artistic creation, the zenith of western art, starting just before 1500, with da Vinci's "The Last Supper" and Michelangelo's "Pietà" from Saint Peter's Basilica, and ending in 1520, with Raphael's death. Furthermore, the years between 1508 and 1512, when both Raphael's "School of Athens" from "Stanza della Segnatura" and Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling were created, are considered the absolute culmination of the Renaissance.