Date of Award

Spring 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art and Design

First Advisor

Dr. John Decker

Second Advisor

Dr. Maria Gindhart

Third Advisor

Dr. Melinda Hartwig


The purpose of this essay is to examine the relationship between Christian and humanistic themes within the four large frescoes that Raphael painted in the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican Palace. Through this examination I plan to demonstrate how the interrelation of these two seemingly contradictory themes was critical for the political aims and papal identity of the patron, Pope Julius II. I will argue that Julius commissioned the decoration of the stanza as a means of asserting his papal authority and presenting an identification of himself as the new Julius Caesar who ushered in a new Roman Golden Age. I will discuss the composition and iconography of the frescoes, the life of Pope Julius II, and Roman humanism in the Early Modern Period, in an attempt to prove that the representation and collaboration of the themes of humanism and Christianity were essential to Julius’s political strategies and identity-formation.