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Portrait of Socrates, Rome late 18th century
Portrait of Socrates, Rome late 18th century - Paintings & Drawings Style
Ref : 112101
5 400 €
Period :
18th century
Provenance :
Medium :
Oil on canvas
Dimensions :
l. 33.66 inch X H. 42.13 inch
Paintings & Drawings  - Portrait of Socrates, Rome late 18th century


Portrait of Socrates, Rome late 18th century

Portrait of Socrates
Neoclassical School, Rome, fourth quarter 18th century
Oil on canvas, in a carved gilt-wood frame
Dimensions: 59 x 71 cm. / 23 ¼ x 28 ins., framed 85.5 x 107.5 cm. / 33 ½ x 42 ¼ ins

This bust-length portrait of the ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, is a fine example of Neoclassical painting from the late eighteenth century.

The composition is clearly inspired by the figure of Socrates in Raphael’s fresco of the School of Athens (1509-11), in the Stanza della Segnatura in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, which also shows the philosopher in left-side profile wearing a green tunic. The German artist Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-79), one of the earliest and most influential Neoclassical painters, painted a full-size copy of the School of Athens for the Duke of Northumberland (Victoria & Albert Museum, London, P.36-1926), whilst several engravings were made after Mengs’ drawings. This demonstrates that Raphael’s frescoes were being keenly observed and studied by Mengs and his followers during this period.

The present portrait, therefore, was probably executed by a talented young Neoclassical follower of Mengs, who was also in close contact with the more austere, scholarly classicism being explored by David and other French artists studying in Rome in the 1770s. It was either commissioned by a patron who admired Socrates, or executed by an artist who had a love of ancient Greek philosophy himself and wanted to emulate Raphael’s famous depiction of Socrates, in an intense and original portrait study.

Katharine Baetjer, 'French Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art from the Early Eighteenth Century through the Revolution'. New York, 2019, pp. 306-17; Hugh Honour, 'Neo-classicism'. London, 1977, pp. 31-37; Steffi Roettgen, 'Anton Raphael Mengs 1728-1779'. Munich, 1999, p. 482

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18th Century Oil Painting