Rafael led a change in the concept of portraits. Rafael started painting people in a form that resembled themselves accurately, in contrast to the “fixed” pictures that were popular at that time. People who were ugly, their defects appeared in the pictures.
Inghirami – Rafael’s genius:
Tommaso Inghirami was a good friend of Rafael. Rafael painted him accurately with some “additions”. These additions were used to emphasize some traits of him. Inghirami was strabismus, and Rafael chose to paint him specifically on the side which exaggerated his defect. Rafael also painted a little mouse on the ink cassette as to symbolize Rafael’s motives in the pictures. Rafael is kind of telling us – “My genius – is a result of the mouse in the ink”.
Inghirami was an academic, and he is known to have his words got him into troubles. I believe the best way to explain it is by saying that “everybody where afraid of his moth”, so this mouse may be a character that says “the brilliantness is not in my head, but in the ink”.
Julius the 2:
The walls in Julius’ room are forming a collection of portraits, kind of an encyclopedia that will give a brief of history. You may notice Diogenes owning Julius’ face, Michelangelo, Plato and many others. Rafael and Michelangelo were not good friends. Michelangelo was a soloist man, while Rafael was friendly and loved by his surroundings. An interesting fact is that Rafael broke a part in the middle of the fresco and inserted Michelangelo. It is hard to change a fresco as for the nature of it. Rafael had been bothered by his conscience for not painting Michelangelo, so he broke a part of the picture and inserted him in order to give him the honor he deserved.
Just after Rafael has died, he claimed that Rafael had learnt all he had known from him, so you may understand the nature of their relationship. Michelangelo was a jealous arrogant person.
In Scuola Athena, there are some very famous literature figures. Dante Alighieri appeared with other two famous poets, Francesco Petrarca and Baldassare Castiglione. The Former was writing in Italian, as he was not well educated, but he wrote poetry which I believe to be best for its elegance, while the latter has produced the portrait that determined what the ideal servant of a king should be like. Dante was the poet that composed the most beautiful songs for his time, but people mostly didn’t know how to read his songs as they were in Italian, which many people had to translate his songs for their living. His literature was forbidden – he had to wander from town to town, as his goal was to give a “verdict of history” – an encyclopedia of people throughout history while claiming criticism about them.
In the same room, you may find Giovanni Boccaccio, the great writer. He is shown in very meager cloth, making it very surprising to find out he is the writer of very enjoyable and later famous stories, about very practical subjects that portray the medieval time.
Rafael painted other important writers such as Sophocles and Aristophanes, two great philosophers – Aristo and Plato, and even some scientists like Pythagoras, Archimedes and Euclid. These figures, which were not from his time, had been permanently set in our consciousness as the actual figures. Every dictionary you may open – will immediately portray you the faces of these figures as painted by Rafael. Rafael built some kind of mythology by taking people from his time and imposing an ancient Greek time characters to identify with them. For instance, the portrait of Diogenes lying in Scuola Athens is indisputably having Julius the second’s face. I personally admire Rafael for keeping secrets in his paintings that haven’t been found even today, 500 years after his death.
Rafaels Self Portraits:
Rafael is painting himself, each time differently. You may notice from his portraits that he is not famous for his look. Apart from beauty judging, examining the picture can help us assume how Rafael would like us to comprehend him.
In the “John the Baptist Portrait”, for instance, we can see Rafael emphasizing his womanly side. Apart from the long hair and the smooth skin, you may notice his woman-like figure and gentle gestures. In the portrait “Self Portrait With A Friend”, you may notice Rafael standing behind his friend as one of his hand is laid on his friend’s shoulder and his second hand is probably under his friend’s shirt, again we see the homosexual motive in his pictures.
At the beginning of his work as a painter, Rafael followed the norm of the “fixed” portrait. The man who was painted was esthetic, pretty and clean. But this kind of work norm does not set the base for an opinion to be expressed. The pictures will not be remembered in the collective memory. Rafael figured that in order to influence the word of art, he had to express his opinions in the picture. He than started catching traits which characterized the man in front of him and managed to pass them throw the pictures. This change led to a paradoxical result – Julius the second, the man who paid for a huge amount of pictures, is not positively appeared. He is uncared, his beard looks neglected, he expresses some embarrassing feelings of desperation and confusion, anger and exaggerated happiness. I believe Scuola Athena to be the picture mostly characterizes this phenomenon – Julius is portrayed as old, barefoot and sitting in his excrements. The art theoreticians claim, that this was not Julius but Diogenes, a Greek philosopher known for his critical, skeptical and cynical attitude; but I beg to differ. Diogenes satisfied with barrel to live in, under a belief that by poverty he may reach the most happiness.
I believe that this can be well illustrated when thinking of today’s photographers. You could expect, that when a photographer shoots you, he would make you look better, or at least like yourself… but in your brighter side. But Rafael had his attitude well covered. When you understand it, you may realize that it is almost like Julius asked him to paint him the ugliest he could, what led theoreticians to miss the fact that the man in the middle of Scuola Athena is actually Julius and not Diogenes.