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Calumny of Apelles

Painting, 1497, 62×91 cm

Description of the artwork «Calumny of Apelles»

"Slander" (ital. Calunnia, tempera on wood) is the work of the great Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli, which was created in 1495

According to George Vasari, the picture was written for his friend Antonio ségny, but the story itself is borrowed from ancient Greek painter. The history of the original is as follows: artist-accuses rival of Apelles organizing a conspiracy against their patron, the king of Egypt, Ptolemy IV Philopator, in the court of which they dwelt.

Apelles was thrown in jail, but one of the real conspirators pointed to the innocence of the artist. Ptolemy exonerated the master and gave him his rival, Antiphilos, as a slave. Apelles, being still under impression of injustice, have chosen a way to counter the slander with the help of artistic means, so she created a picture of "Defamation". She was not saved, however, reached us a detailed description of this work from Lucian.

This description was used by Botticelli when you create a new version. The film Botticelli's "Calumny" on the throne sits king Midas, "awarded" by Apollo with the ears of a donkey for what was declared the winner in the contest of pan and not him. And he listens to the slanderers. Standing near Suspicion with the Dark whisper something to the Midas ear, and he turns for support to Rage (figure in dark clothes). This character, in turn, leads under the hand of Slander, a beautiful girl in the guise of innocence, and her weave braid Envy with Lies. Slander thus pulls its victim – naked, begging for mercy. In the left part of the picture we see the figure of Truth.

The bare Truth points to heaven, but to determine the truth under the power of only one Repentance – it is depicted by the artist in a hunched old woman, like the mourner. Allegory of the artist can be considered only partly successful, as figures that embody the vices (except for Anger), as beautiful as Truth. Event Botticelli "Defamation" occur in a spacious room with vaulted style Windows of the XVI century. A small bas-reliefs depict scenes from the Bible and mythology, though not related to the main story.

Interestingly, scientists disagree with the interpretation of the meaning of the work: some people believe that the creation of the painting Sandro Botticelli's "Calumny" triggered hex, which suffered a painter, and the other saw a secret allegory of the trial of Savonarola.
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait, Nude, Interior, Allegorical scene, Literary scene

Style of art: Renaissance

Technique: Tempera

Materials: Wood

Date of creation: 1497

Size: 62×91 cm

Artwork in selections: 17 selections