Discordant Notes on Raphael’s Slate
Bigelow John
DOI: 10.17212/2075-0862-2019-11.3.1-32-57

Stanza della Segnatura ("Signature Room") painted by Raphael, is one of the most famous works of the great master. At the same time, the relations between the paintings on the four frescoes and other images in this room, as well as this room itself, form a kind of “abstract object” that can be decoded. The key to this decoding can be the text on the slate, which is presented on one of the frescoes, the most famous of the cycle, known as the "School of Athens." Perhaps we will never know for sure whether Raphael himself invented all the mathematical schemes that can be found in this room, or whether he simply carried out the arithmetic plans that were imposed on him by the Pope or his advisers. Nevertheless, we can assume with a high degree of certainty that the visual iconography in Stanza della Segnatura with a reliable “margin of error” is indeed consistent with the central features of the mathematical theory of music described in Plato's “Timaeus”. It can be shown that the relations between the frescoes obey quite definite mathematical relations. If Stansa della Segnature is really a "room for a signature", then this "signature" is a musically harmonious ‘World soul’, described in the Plato’s “Timaeus”