The School of Athens
In 1508, the young Raphael Sanzio (1483-1520) arrived in Rome. Bramante introduced him to Pope Julius II who commissioned him to decorate his new apartment, brusquely dismissing Sodoma. Raphael and his workshop worked in the Chambers (Le Stanze) from 1508 to 1524 under Popes Julius II (1503-1513), Leo X (1513-1521) and Clement VII (1521-1534).
The Room of the Segnatura (1508-1511) originally intended as a private office and library, was transformed by Leo X into a music room. The walls are decorated with The Disputation over the Most Holy Sacrament, Parnassus, The School of Athens, The Cardinal and Theological Virtues and the Law.
The Room of Heliodorus (1512-1514) was reserved for the Pope's private audiences. It is decorated by The Mass of Bolsena, Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple, The Deliverance of Saint Peter, The Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila.
The Room of the Fire in the Borgo (1514-1517) was used as a meeting room for the highest court of the Holy See. The frescos represent The Crowning of Charlemagne, The Justification of Leo III, the Fire in the Borgo and The Battle of Ostia.
From then on, Raphael ran a large workshop which he relied on for the execution of his works. Following the death of Bramante in 1514, Raphael was in charge of all works at Saint Peter's Basilica.
The Room of Constantine (1517-1524), used for receptions and official ceremonies, was decorated by the pupils of Raphael (amongst whom Giulio Romano and Gianfrancesco Penni) using the Master's sketches following his death in 1520. The walls are adorned with frescos depicting The Vision of the Cross, The Battle of Constantine against Maxentius (also called The Battle of the Pons Milvius), The Baptism of Constantine and the Donation of Rome.
Completed in 1510, the fresco of the School of Athens symbolises the philosophy and the truth acquired through reason in which figures from ancient times rub shoulders with Raphael's contemporaries.