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Gesture and Perspective in Raphael’s School of Athens

Temple, Nicholas (2010) Gesture and Perspective in Raphael’s School of Athens. In: Renaissance Theories of Vision. Ashgate, London, pp. 135-148. ISBN 978-1-4094-0024-0

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This chapter is based on a paper I was invited to deliver at the Renaissance Society of America annual conference in Miami in March 2007. The paper, which was presented in a conference session on the theme ‘Visual Knowledge in the Renaissance’, forms part of a larger research project on the symbolic meanings of the frescoes in the Stanza della Segnatura. Begun as part of my PhD thesis, the study of the frescoes was later expanded and incorporated as an extended chapter in my book, renovatio urbis: Architecture, Urbanism and Ceremony in the Rome of Julius II (Routledge, 2011), which focused mainly on the topographical and geographical significance of the painted scenes. In this chapter, I develop a more detailed argument about the significance of the gestures of the principal figures represented in the fresco, especially relating to their manual gestures. The chapter argues that the techniques of perspective in the Renaissance serve as a symbolic ‘scaffold’, within which the drama of human action and exchange - variously constituted as expressions of ‘decorum’, could be communicated in paradigmatic terms. In the School of Athens this interpretation of perspective is underlined by the manner in which the gestures of the figures are variously aligned - or guided by – the surrounding pictorial construct. Forming part of a larger iconographic programme of the fresco cycle, that culminates in the Disputa opposite, this inter-relationship even extends to the real space of the room itself, where the ‘presence’ of the viewer, in this case Julius II, is acknowledged.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Schools: School of Art, Design and Architecture
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Depositing User: Graham Stone
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2012 07:49
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2018 14:16


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