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Painting Title Diogenes in his Barrel
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist After Merian, Matthäus, the elder (Swiss printmaker, 1593-1650)
Date Earliest about 1630
Date Latest possibly about 1670
Description The painting is in a very bad condition; it also appears to have been cut down on both left and right sides. It depicts Diogenes in his barrel (to the right) talking to Alexander the Great leaning against the barrel; Alexander is surrounded by his troops and his coat is held by his black child servant. Diogenes of Sinope was a Greek philosopher who lived at the turn of 5th and 4th centuries BC; he was a founder of Cynic philosophy. Diogenes considered poverty a virtue: he lived in a barrel and criticised any attachment to material goods. According to Plutarch ('The Life of Alexander' in Parallel Lives, 14.1-5) Alexander the Great came to meet Diogenes and asked him if there was any favour he might do for him, but Diogenes only replied: 'Yes, stand out of my sunlight'. The painting was probably based, loosely, on the engraving by Matthäus Merian the Elder (Swiss printmaker, 1593-1650), in Johann Ludwig Gottfried's Historische Chronica, Frankfurt, 1630, p. 185.
Current Accession Number YORAG : 388
Subject history (Diogenes and Alexander the Great); figure
Measurements 170 x 182 cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by Dr T. Spinks 1889.
Publications York Art Gallery Catalogue - Catalogue of Paintings, Vol. III: English and European 19th and 20th centuries, The Reserve Collection, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1974, p. 119; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 342 and 351.
Notes Given as by Lucas de Edey, 1668.
Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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