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Alexander the Great Cutting the Gordian Knot
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Alexander the Great Cutting the Gordian Knot

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description In this companion to "Alexander the Great at the Tomb of Achilles" (Walters 37.510), the Macedonian ruler and general has entered the town of Gordium (in present-day Turkey) in 344 BC. In that city was the chariot of Gordius, the father of the legendary King Midas. The yoke of the wagon was fastened by a complicated knot. It had been prophesied that the one who could loose the knot would become the ruler of Asia. Instead of trying to untie the impossibly difficult knot, Alexander just cut through it with his sword. He went on to conquer Asian kingdoms as far east as Afghanistan. To suggest Asia Minor and the ancient past, Panini introduced a bystander wearing a turban and placed the scene in front of an altar dedicated to Zeus, ruler of the Greek gods, enthroned with his thunderbolt. For more information on this painting, please see Federico Zeri's 1976 catalogue no. 409, pp. 519-520.
Date Description Narrative
7/01/1970Treatmentcleaned; examined for condition; inpainted; repaired; varnish removed or reduced
  • 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.
Provenance Don Marcello Massarenti Collection, Rome [date and mode of acquisition unknown] [1881 catalogue: no. 154; 1897 catalogue: no. 297]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1902, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection, 1902

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ca. 1718-1719 (Baroque)
oil on canvas
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
Painted surface H: 28 7/8 x W: 23 1/2 in. (73.3 x 59.7 cm)
  • Italy, Rome (Place of Origin)
  • Turkey, Gordium (Place Depicted)

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