by Alexandra Tuschka
A young man with full black hair and slightly graying beard approaches us. Prominently, the well-known Cynic philosopher Diogenes holds his attribute , the lantern into the picture, his grip is firm. This alludes to the well-known anecdote that the philosopher is said to have gone to the marketplace in broad daylight with a burning lantern, looking for a true man. Has he finally found him? - The sad eyes, the narrow lips do not betray cheerfulness.
The lantern is barely highlighted visually; it serves neither to illuminate the scene here, nor are there any references to the marketplace scene. Rather, the brown-soaked scene is illuminated only by the cellar light. The paint application is so thick that the bristles of the brush can be seen in front of the original.
The composition refers to the resigned facial expression of the protagonist. As in the Apostles series and in other portraits of philosophers, Ribera understands the reduction of pictorial means to aptly portray the personality of the sitter.
It has been suspected, but without convincing evidence, that Ribera may have hidden a self-portrait here. The portrait is so detailed and individually worked out - a character head - that certainly the painting after the model can be assumed. The painting is part of a series of portraits of various philosophers. In 1636, 12 paintings were commissioned by Charles Eusebius, Prince of Liechtenstein, only half of which were realized by the artist.
Jusepe de Ribera - Diogenes
Oil on canvas, 1637, 76 x 61 cm, Old Masters Picture Gallery in Dresden