Around 420 BC the Greek philosopher Diogenes walked around Athens with a lamp burning in the middle of the day. When asked why he was doing that he replied “I am searching for an honest man.” Apparently, he never found one.
I’m not decided if he really was a philosopher or if he was just plumb crazy but he certainly stirred things up in Ancient Greece. He lived in an overturned earthen wine vat, broke all the rules of civil society which today would land you in jail, and had the sharpest of wits which he often put to good use.
Alexander the Great was a big admirer of Diogenes and it is said that in a conversation Alexander had with Diogenes Alexander pronounced “If I were not Alexander I should wish to be Diogenes” to which Diogenes replied “If I were not Diogenes I would also wish to be Diogenes”.
Whether he met all the standards of being a philosopher or that he was indeed plumb crazy is open to debate but he certainly inspired a number of artists over the centuries.
I really like the balance of light and dark, the contrast between curve and straight lines and the intensity of the four dogs watching Diogenes lighting his lamp.
The painting was owned for a short while by August Belmont (of horse racing fame) and from 1872 until present by members of the Walters family and the Walters Museum. I doubt that it would be for sale but hey, there’s some nice stuff on this site for sale.
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