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Attributed to Langetti, Giovanni Battista (Italian painter, 1635-1676) , Aristotle Refusing the Hemlock

Core Record

Title Aristotle Refusing the Hemlock
Alternative Title Diogens and Alexander; Archimedes and the Roman Soldiers
Collection Wellcome Library
Artist Attributed to Langetti, Giovanni Battista (Italian painter, 1635-1676)
Attributed to circle of Loth, Johann Carl (German painter, 1632-1698, active in Italy)
Previously attributed to Rubens, Peter Paul (Flemish painter and draftsman, 1577-1640)
Date Earliest possibly 1600
Date Latest about 1900
Description This work is believed to be the philosopher Aristotle who, when indicted for impiety, was required to follow the example of Socrates by committing suicide. However, he refused to drink the hemlock and fled instead to Chalcis with the remark that he 'would not give the Athenians a second chance to sin against philosophy'. Although at one time attributed to Peter Paul Rubens and also the circle of Johann Carl Loth, the work is now attributed to Giovanni Battista Langetti, an Italian seventeenth-century artist working in Venice.
Current Accession Number 45519i
Former Accession Number CC 4756
Subject figure; interior; still life; history (Aristotle (?); Diogens and Alexander (?))
Measurements 114.3 x 114.3 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Henry Solomon Wellcome 1936.
Provenance Sale, 'Old and Modern Pictures', Messrs Foster, London, 5 October 1910, lot 159, as Archimedes and the Roman Soldiers, by 'Rubens', 30; Henry Solomon Wellcome, 1910.

There is another chalk ref. no. on the reverse, '3126/6' which might refer to an earlier sale.

This work is very close to a painting by Langetti at the Fondazione Scientifica Querini Stampalia, Venice which is entitled Diogenes and Alexander. The faces of the two figures are very close to those in Langetti's work. Examples of Loth's work on the file at the Wellcome are indicative that this work may also be by Johan Carl Loth. In particular, a work sold at Sotheby's, Monaco, 15-16 June 1990, lot 342 of Agar and L'Ange is particularly close in the facial depiction of the model. It has also been said that the subject might be Archimedes rather than Aristotle. The philosopher is shown with his left arm resting on a globe and in his hand holds a pair of compasses. Loth studied under Langetti so this might well account for the similarity of the two works. Dawson Carr thinks this is in the style of Luca Giordano. Works are similar to mounts at the Witt Library.

Rights Owner (c) The Wellcome Trust
Author Dr Madeleine Korn



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