Inventory number
P01682
Author
Rubens, Peter Paul (Flemish)
Title
Democritus, the Laughing Philosopher
Chronology
1636-1638
Technique
Óleo
Support
Lienzo
Dimensions
180,5 cm x 66 cm
School
Flamenca
Theme
Retrato
On display
No
Provenance
Colección Real (Torre de la Parada, El Pardo-Madrid, 1701; Palacio de El Pardo, Madrid; Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, sala de conversación, 1772, [s. n.]; Palacio Real, Madrid, pieza de entrada para la habitación de la reina de Etruria que está de blanco, 1814-1818, s.n.).

Democritus of Abdera (460-370 B.C.) is the pictorial pendant of Heraclitus (P1680) as well as his philosophical counterpoint. Wearing bright colors, he laughs sarcastically while contemplating a globe of the Earth, alluding to his concept of the comic meaning of life. During the Modern Age, this was interpreted on the basis of Christian precepts as a message alluding to the vanity of earthly life.

This work was made for the Torre de la Parada, a small royal palace near Madrid, where it hung between windows or doors. It was often though to be a portrait of a geographer.

 
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