Abstract / Synopsis

At the center of the School of Athens, Raphael painted Plato with a face similar to that of Leonardo da Vinci. In this article I argue that the likeness was intentional, and that Raphael’s fresco contains a set of references to the book De Divina Proportione, to which Leonardo contributed with drawings of polyhedrons. De Divina Proportione was written by Leonardo’s friend and teacher of mathematics, Luca Pacioli, and contains arguments for raising the status of the art of painting, similar to the arguments found in Leonardo’s Paragone. Pacioli and Leonardo thought painting should be regarded as a liberal art, due to the painters' use of mathematical principles. In the article, I show how Plato with the face of Leonardo is part of a set of allusions to these arguments found in The School of Athens.



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