Luca Giordano - The Philosopher Cratetes, c. 1650
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome
An example of painting that was executed by Giordano under extremely strong Ribera influence - so much so that once it was believed it was painted by Ribera himself.
The subject was identified as the philosopher Cratetes. Imaginary portraits of ancient philosophers and the representation of events from their lives was very popular in seventeenth-century Italy, Holland and France. The trend can be connected to the new spread of Neostoicism, a philosophical current particularly common to Naples in the 1660’s.
This painting is closely connected to the several series of philosophers that Giordano painted on the model of Ribera’s two philosopher series, both carried out by the Spanish artist in the 1630’s. Giordano’s and Ribera’s philosophers share the strong naturalistic and anti-ideal tendencies that were prized in Neapolitan neo-stoic intellectual circles; circles in which Giordano himself participated. The philosophers are depicted as simple people, dressed in poor clothing and with specific, unidealized physiognomic characterizations that derive directly from the live model.
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