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Plate with Alexander and Diogenes
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Plate with Alexander and Diogenes

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Inscription Credit
Description On this plate, Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE) is shown visiting Diogenes of Sinope (412-323 BCE), a Greek philosopher who lived without worldly possessions in a wooden tub. Described by the Greek biographer Plutarch (46-120 CE) in his Life of Alexander (Book 14), when Alexander appeared before Diogenes, the philosopher’s only request was that the powerful military hero step aside, as he was blocking the sunlight. On the right side of the scene, Alexander’s companions appear puzzled, indicating their disbelief at Diogenes’ wish and his indifference to social hierarchy. The back of the plate is white stained with green, with one raised circle at the rim; in the center in blue is the inscription, “1534/÷Alisandro•Magnio•/in urbino.”

This composition is representative of the “istoriato” (tells a story) style, which emerged at the beginning of the sixteenth century, and often depicted stories from Classical literature. It was made in the prominent maiolica center of Urbino, by the artist Giulio da Urbino, and the date 1534 is painted on the back of the plate. To see other works by Giulio da Urbino, click on his name in the creator field; for more information on “istoriato” wares, see no. 48.1487; for “maiolica,” see 48.1336.

Date Description Narrative
  • Alexander the Great and His Influence over the World from Antiquity to Modern Times. Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki. 1980.
  • The Search for Alexander. National Gallery of Art, Washington; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco; New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. 1980-1983.
  • Faience: The Colors of the Heavens. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2003-2004.
Provenance Guidi Collection [date and mode of acquisition unknown] [no. 40]; Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Inscription] In the center, between the footring, in blue: •1535 • / ÷ Alisandro • Magnio • / in urbino.•
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters

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1534 (Renaissance)
earthenware with tin glaze (maiolica)
Accession Number
1 1/8 x 10 1/4 in. (2.9 x 26 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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