One would imagine that a work as famous as Raphael’s School of Athens would have every figure established. Nevertheless, Daniel Orth Bell’s article entitled “New Identifications in Raphael’s School of Athens” of 1995 proposed a radical reinterpretation of two figures. His discussion centered on a foreground figure long-identified as Diogenes the Cynic. This identification of Diogenes first came about with Giorgio Vasari in his Lives of the Most Eminent Sculptors, Painters and Architects of 1550. That is until Bell suggested that the figure of Diogenes is actually an image of Socrates. Bell then further proposes that Giovanni Bellori misidentified another background figure as Socrates in Descrizzione of 1695. Bell argued that such past scholars and their followers were wrong in their identifications; however, contemporary art historians have not embraced Bell’s argument. This paper will explain why there is a lack of acceptance among the art historical community through an examination of the image and an article concurrent with Bell’s publication. Most of Bell’s insightful presentation no longer seems plausible as it was in 1995.
Allyson Weiss, ’10 Greenfield, WI
Major: Art and Art History
Sponsor: Christina Penn-Goetsch