lecture

Envoi.

1a. Cicero, On Invention 2.1-3. Translated by H. M. Hubbell.

The citizens of Croton, once upon a time, when they had abundant wealth and were numbered among the most prosperous in Italy, desired to enrich with distinguished paintings the temple of Juno, which they held in the deepest veneration. They, therefore, paid a large fee to Zeuxis of Heraclea who was considered at that time to excel all other artists, and secured his services for their project. He painted many panels, some of which have been preserved to the present by the sanctity of the shrine; he also said that he wished to paint a picture of Helen so that the portrait though silent and lifeless might embody the surpassing beauty of womanhood. This delighted the Crotoniats, who had often heard that he surpassed all others in the portrayal of women. For they thought that if he exerted himself in the genre in which he was supreme, he would leave an outstanding work of art in that temple. Nor were they mistaken in this opinion. For Zeuxis immediately asked them what girls they had of surpassing beauty. They took him directly to the wrestling school and showed him many very handsome young men. For at one time the men of Croton excelled all in strength and beauty of body, and brought home the most glorious victories in athletic contests with the greatest distinction. As he was greatly admiring the handsome bodies, they said, “There are in our city the sisters of these men; you may get an idea of their beauty from these youths.” “Please send me then the most beautiful of these girls, while I am painting the picture that I have promised, so that the true beauty may be transferred from the living model to the mute likeness.” Then the citizens of Croton by a public decree assembled the girls in one place and allowed the painter to choose whom he wished. He selected five, whose names many poets recorded because they were approved by the judgement of him who must have been the supreme judge of beauty. He chose five because he did not think all the qualities which he sought to combine in a portrayal of beauty could be found in one person, because in no single case has nature made anything perfect and finished in every part. Therefore, as if she would have no bounty to lavish on the others if she gave everything to one, she bestows some advantage on one and some on another, but always joins with it some defect.

1b. François-André Vincent, Zeuxis et les filles de Crotone. 1789-91. François-André_Vincent_-_Zeuxis_Choosing_his_Models_for_the_Image_of_Helen_from_among_the_Girls_of_Croton_-_WGA25109.jpg

1c. Edwin Long, The Chosen Five. 1885.DOR_BRC_BORGM_01348.jpg

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