Rembrandt (Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn) / Aristotle with a Bust of Homer / 1653Rembrandt (Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn)
Aristotle with a Bust of Homer

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Creator Name: Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn
Creator Nationality: European; Dutch
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Dates/Places: Dutch, 1606-1669
Creator Name-CRT: Rembrandt (Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn)
Title: Aristotle with a Bust of Homer
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1653
Creation End Date: 1653
Creation Date: 1653
Object Type: Paintings
Materials and Techniques: oil on canvas
Dimensions: 56 1/2 x 53 3/4 in. (143.5 x 136.5 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 61.198
Credit Line: Purchase, special contributions and funds given or bequeathed by friends of the Museum, 1961

In this imaginary portrait of Aristotle, the Greek philosopher rests his hand reflectively on a bust of Homer, the epic poet of an earlier age. A medallion depicting Alexander the Great, whom Aristotle tutored, hangs from the gold chain. This extravagant decoration must be an award for service and recalls the gold chains that princely patrons gave to Titian, Rubens, and Van Dyck. It is generally supposed that Aristotle is contemplating the worth of worldly success as opposed to spiritual values. The gestures of the hands, accentuated by the cascading sleeves, and the shadows playing over Aristotle's brow and eyes support this interpretation.

The picture was painted for the great Sicilian collector Antonio Ruffo. His inventory dated September 1, 1654, lists the canvas as a "half-length figure of a philosopher made in Amsterdam by the painter named Rembrandt (it appears to be Aristotle or Albertus Magnus)." In the early 1660s Rembrandt sent Ruffo companion pictures of Alexander and Homer, which suggests that, despite his much later costume, this figure must be Aristotle. In any case, the study of a figure lost in thought is characteristic of Rembrandt, whose achievement here reflects his longstanding preoccupations with visual and emotional experience.

AMICA ID: MMA_.61.198
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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