The itinerary <em>TITULORECORRIDO</em> has been successfully created. Now you can add in works from the Collection browser
<em>TITULOOBRA</em> added to <em>TITULORECORRIDO</em> itinerary

Diogenes searching for a Man
Castiglione, Giovanni Benedetto
Close Continuar a ficha de la obra

Castiglione, Giovanni Benedetto

Genoa, 1610 - Mantua, 1665

See author's file

Diogenes searching for a Man

1645 - 1655. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

An inquiring and original artist, as well as an extraordinary draughtsman, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione travelled throughout much of Italy (besides his native Genoa, he worked in Rome, Mantua, Venice, and possibly Parma, Florence, Bologna and Modena) absorbing and appropriating a great variety of tendencies and languages, from the vigorous naturalism of painters living in Genoa, such as Sinibaldo Scorza and the Flemish artist Jan Roos, to the great classical tradition of Nicolas Poussin, and the Baroque impetus of Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck. To his fondness drawn from Roos for combining figures, animals and still lifes in large pastoral, biblical or mythological compositions, Castiglione added yet another element: the vestiges of classical Antiquity that he had undoubtedly studied in Rome. Diogenes searching for a Man, c.1645-55, is an excellent example of this approach.

The scene is drawn from a passage in Diogenes’s Lives of Eminent Philosophers (third century AD), which tells how Diogenes of Sinope (fifth-fourth centuries BC) walked the streets of Athens carrying a lit lamp in the middle of the day in what he claimed to be his quest for an honest man. Although this legendary episode from the Cynic philosopher’s life barely occupies a line in Lives of Eminent Philosophers, it seems to be what Castiglione chose as the central subject in an enigmatic scene that includes other elements more worthy of a bacchanal. A satyr, a pagan idol, a man reaching out to a goat, other animals and objects scattered around the floor (dead birds, shells, bones, vessels) recall the detritus of a decadent, vice-ridden society. Many of the diverse interpretations of this painting are related to Castiglione’s interest in the subject of vanitas, present in several of his engravings, including Melancholy, c.1649, and Temporales aeternitas, 1645. Recently, however, this work has been related to certain contemporaneous debates about the essence of humanity and the relation between humans and animals, morality and virtue.

Castiglione was not the only painter of his time to depict an exemplary episode from the life of a Greco-Latin philosopher. Indeed, there was an important Neo-Stoic current in seventeenthcentury Italy that embraced the figure of Diogenes because of his detachment from earthly things. One of the participants in that movement was Poussin, the so-called philosopherpainter, whose influence on Castiglione has been noted. Though infrequent at the time, this painting’s subject matter was addressed by some Flemish painters, including Cornelis de Vos, Jacob Jordaens and Rubens. Castiglione also used it for an etching and a beautiful drawing now at Windsor Castle, United Kingdom, as well as a monotype (Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf) that shares numerous elements with the Prado’s work.

Stylistically and chronologically, this is a mature work, made in Genoa in the mid 1640s or possibly during Castiglione’s second stay in Rome, around 1647-51. As Hugh Brigstocke pointed out, it is lighter than other depictions of the same subject by this painter, which are usually enveloped in an evening light, possibly to make the metaphor of Diogenes’s lamp more eloquent. Here the figure of the satyr is painted with lively, warm brushstrokes that recall Rubens, who Castiglione also echoes in his concept of Antiquity as a living, earthy reality, far removed from Poussin’s more calculated and archaeological approach. Like other works at the Prado, this may be from the collection of painter Carlo Maratta (1625-1713), part of which was acquired by Philip V in 1722. It is recorded as being at the Royal Palace of La Granja in 1746, and in the Aranjuez Palace in 1794 (González, R.: Italian Masterpieces. From Spain´s Royal Court, Museo del Prado, 2014, p. 172).


Technical data

Inventory number
Castiglione, Giovanni Benedetto
Diogenes searching for a Man
1645 - 1655
Height: 97 cm; Width: 145 cm
Royal Collection (collection Jacques Meijers, Rotterdam; Meijers, 1722, nº 17; adquisition of Felipe V; col. Felipe V, Palacio de La Granja de San Ildefonso, Segovia, 1727; col. Felipe V., La Granja, pieza de cubiertos, 1746, nº 92; Palacio de Aranjuez, Madrid, 1794, nº 92; Aranjuez, Consejo de Estado, 1818, nº 92).

Bibliography +

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Pintura italiana del S. XVII en España, Universidad Fundación Valdecilla, Madrid, 1965, pp. 528.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Pintura italiana del siglo XVII: exposición conmemorativa del ciento cincuenta aniversario de la fundación del Museo del Prado, Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, Madrid, 1970, pp. 154.

Percy, A., Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione. Master Draughtsman of the Italian Baroque, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1971, pp. 34 / nota 92.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972, pp. 132.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 135.

Ferrari, Oreste, L'iconografia dei filosofi antichi nella pittura del sec. XVII in Italia, Storia dell'Arte, 57, 1986, pp. 103, 160 / lám. 77.

Dillon, Gianvittorio, Il Genio di G. B. Castiglione Il Grechetto, Sagep Editrice, Genova, 1990, pp. 126-127 n.16.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Alcalá Flecha, Roberto, En torno al Diógenes de Goya, Goya: Revista de Arte, 227, 1992, pp. 289 / lám. 13.

Bettagno, Alessandro, El Museo del Prado, Fonds MercatorFundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 297.

Boccardo, Piero, Genova e la Spagna : Opere, Artisti, Commitenti, Collezionis, Silvana Editoriale, Genova, 2002, pp. 211.

Aterido Fernández, Ángel; Martínez Cuesta, Juan; Pérez Preciado, José Juan, Colecciones de pinturas de Felipe V e Isabel Farnesio. Inventarios Reales, II, Fundación de Apoyo de la Historia del Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 2004, pp. 369.

Bakhuys, Dierich; Coudert, Marie Claude, Les curieux philosophes de Velázquez et de Ribera, Fage, Lyon, 2005, pp. 44/ lám.18.

López Fanjul, M.; Pérez Preciado, J.J, Los números y marcas de colección en los cuadros del Museo del Prado, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXIII, 2005, pp. 84-110.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Las aves en el Museo del Prado, SEO/BirdLife, 2010, pp. 114,222.

González, R, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione 'Diogenes seeking an honest man' En:, Italian masterpieces from Spain's royal court, Museo del Prado, National Gallery of Victoria Thames & Hudson, 2014, pp. 172.

Gregg, Ryan E., Authority and invention: Castiglione and the reception of the St. Louis reclining Pan, The Seventeenth century, March vol. XXX n.1, 2015, pp. 1-32 [18 fg.15].

Frascarelli, Dalma, 'Dai Regni ali Quadri, filosofi e filosofia nella Pittura del Seicento a Roma' En:L'altro Seicento: arte a Roma tra eterodossia, libertinismo e scienza, L'ERMA di Bretschneider,, 2016, pp. 132-144 [137 f.2].

Bober, Jonathan, 'Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, detto 'Il Grechetto' Diogene cerca l' uomo', Superbarocco: arte a Genova da Rubens a Magnasco, Skira, 2022, pp. 180-181 nº 30.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 662.
Castiglione / 662. Diogenes buscando al hombre. / El filosofo sale de entre unas ruinas, con una linterna en la mano, no reconociendo en los hombres mas que bestias por su libertinage irreligion, avaricia y glotoneria: vicios personificados en los sátiros y animales que tiene delante de si. Fondo: país con una montaña. / Alto 3 pies, 5 pulg, 6 lin; ancho 5 pies, 3 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 662.

Inv. Fernando VII, Aranjuez, 1814-1818. Núm. 92.
Consejo de Estado [...] {20947} 92 / Cinco pies largo tres y quarto alto, Diogenes con linterna en la mano = Castillon

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 101.

Inv. Felipe V, La Granja, 1746. Núm. 92.
Una Pintura origl en Lienzo, de mano de Benedicto Castilloni, que reptª un Satiro con Flauta en la mano, y Manto azul; otras dos Figuras que la una tiene Linterna en la mano; y Jalma â un lado, con otros Animales. tiene una vª y seis dedos de alto; cinco tercias y tres de ancho. Marco dorado de dos ordenes de talla al dentro, y otro al fuera...1

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Aranjuez, 1794. Núm. 92.
Pieza de musica [...] {179} 92 / Cinco pies de largo y tres y quarto de alto. Diogenes con Linterna en la mano, un Satiro, y otras figuras. Benedicto Castilloni ... 4000

Inscriptions +

GIO: Bened. Castillionus Genuen
Signed. Front, lower right corner

Cross of Burgundy or Cross of Saint Andrew, collection’s mark belonging to Felipe V. Front, lower right corner

Inscribed in white. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

SUPERBAROCCO. Splendore genovese da Rubens a Magnasco
25.03.2022 - 03.07.2022

Italian Masterpieces from Spain's Royal Court. Museo Nacional del Prado
16.05.2014 - 31.08.2014

Il Genio di Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione detto il Grechetto (1609-1663 / 65)
27.01.1990 - 01.04.1990

Displayed objects +

Shawm: Aerófono de madera con lengüeta doble y un tubo cónico que se abre en campana y agujeros digitales, portado por el fauno en su mano izquierda. Se ha representado la fontanella típica de los instrumentos de tesitura media y grave que sirve de protección a la llave o llaves. El instrumento está someramente decorado con filas de pequeños círculos en relieve. Se trata del antecedente inmediato del oboe. Como todos los instrumentos de viento, en el mundo clásico estaría relacionado con el culto a Dionisios. Tuvo una gran aceptación en el Renacimiento hasta el siglo XVII en las agrupaciones instrumentales de viento "Ministriles" de las capillas musicales (Proyecto Iconografía Musical, U.C.M.).
Las chirimías participaban tanto en las procesiones como en la música que acompañaba a los oficios.

Lantern / Street Lamp: Farol portátil o de mano

Update date: 12-07-2022 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

Print on demand

Print artworks available in our catalogue in high quality and your preferred size and finish.

Image archive

Request artworks available in our catalogue in digital format.