What Does it All Mean? The Painting and its Subject

What Does it All Mean? The Painting and its Subject

Finally, we come to terms with the School of Athens. How was it painted, and what does it mean? How do how it was painted and what it means intersect?

The School of Athens: What is it saying and how does it say it?

Presented by David Mayernik

Composition and technique – Perspective, the cartoon, the giornate

Learn about the perspective of the architectural space and the organization of the groups of figures within it.

Plato and Aristotle: Schools of Thought

Presented by David Mayernik

The two protagonists and their allies

How do the two protagonists of the painting, Plato and Aristotle, sponsor the organization of the rest of the figures?

Some particulars: Plato and Michelangelo

Presented by David Mayernik

The medium and the message

We will look closely at two figures in particular. One of them, the subject of week two, may represent Michelangelo. The other, Plato, may also represent Leonardo da Vinci.

View the Event

Presented by David Mayernik

View the discussion recorded on Thursday, May 20, 2021, with David Mayernik ’83 and special guest Ingrid Rowland about the meaning of the painting, and the meaning of how it was painted. Register to participate in future discussions.

Listen to the discussion wherever, whenever, on The ThinkND Podcast:

Read the Recap

Professor Ingrid Rowland writes and lectures on Classical Antiquity, the Renaissance, and the Age of the Baroque for general as well as specialist readers. A frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books, she is the author of The Culture of the High Renaissance: Ancients and Moderns in Sixteenth-Century Rome (1998), The Scarith of Scornello: A Tale of Renaissance Forgery (2004), From Heaven to Arcadia (2005), Giordano Bruno, Philosopher/Heretic (2008), From Pompeii: The Afterlife of a Roman Town (2013), Villa Taverna (2014), and The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art (2017) co-written with Noah Charney. In 2009, she was awarded the Society for Italian Historical Studies’s Howard R. Marraro Prize for Giordano Bruno. Rowland has also published translations of Vitruvius’ Ten Books of Architecture (1999) and Giordano Bruno’s Italian dialogue On the Heroic Frenzies (2014), an edition of the correspondence of Agostino Chigi from a Vatican Library manuscript (2001), and the exhibition catalog The Ecstatic Journey: Athanasius Kircher in Baroque Rome (2000). Her latest book is The Divine Spark of Syracuse (2018).


As an Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Chicago, she received the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Prof. Rowland previously taught at UCLA and Columbia University, as well as in the Rome programs of St. Mary’s College and the University of California, Irvine. After completing a BA in Classics at Pomona College, she earned her Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Greek Literature and Classical Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College. She has been a Fellow of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, the American Academy in Rome, the Villa I Tatti in Florence and the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Corresponding Member of the Accademia dei Sepolti of Volterra and the Accademia degli Intronati of Siena. 

Additional Resources

Presented by David Mayernik

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