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A philosopher and virtuoso seated in an armchair: dissatisfied with his accomplishments, he points to the need for charity to the poor. Engraving by C.F. Stoelzel, 1774, after J.E. Schenau, 1773.

  • Schenau, Johann Eleazar, 1737-1806
Date
[ca. 1774]
Reference
2863614i
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view A philosopher and virtuoso seated in an armchair: dissatisfied with his accomplishments, he points to the need for charity to the poor. Engraving by C.F. Stoelzel, 1774, after J.E. Schenau, 1773.

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Credit: A philosopher and virtuoso seated in an armchair: dissatisfied with his accomplishments, he points to the need for charity to the poor. Engraving by C.F. Stoelzel, 1774, after J.E. Schenau, 1773. Wellcome Collection. Public Domain Mark

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About this work

Description

He is dressed in a banyan and rich robes and wears a soft hat: the costume is similar to that of oriental-type sages painted by Rembrandt. His chair and table are gilt and carved with Greco-Roman motifs. A sculpture and urns on the table are also in Greco-Roman style. On the floor are a globe, a sculpted bust, and a drinking vessel in the form of a goat's head. He points to a painting, left, of an intercession of an angel with a personification of religion on behalf of the poor, orphans, the hungry etc. According to Dassdorf, loc. cit., the painting shown on the left belonged to Schenau

On the table is a paper inscribed with the reference by Cicero to a wise man: "Sapientem dicimus plurimis et gravissimis artibus atque virtutibus instructum et ornatum -- Cic. De finib., L. II cap. 34", referring to Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum, book II, ch. 112. The argument is there made that, just as it would have been disproportionate if Xerxes had led the Persian army all the way to Greece solely to get honey from Mount Hymettus, so it would be equally absurd for a man to acquire wisdom, learning, and virtù solely for the sake of the pleasure it affords him. This explains why the sage points to the painting of religion and charity. Above the paper inscribed with the reference to Cicero is a scroll indistinctly inscribed, possibly "tod lerne taeglich", perhaps a quotation from Samuel Schmidt, Vollständiger Catechismus, in welchem denen Heyldurstigen aus der Lehr Christi Jesu als dem wahren Brunnen des Lebens, das Wasser ihres Heyls nach Genügen, und also heraus geschöpffet wird, Stadt am Hoff nachst Regenspurg: Johann Gastl, Buchhandler, 1748, p. 424 ("Betrachte täglich den Todt, gedencke täglich an das Sterben, und lerne täglich sterben"), or from a similar catechism

Publication/Creation

Dresden ; Leipzig : Ist in Commission zu haben in den Hilscherischen Buchhandlungen, [ca. 1774]

Physical description

1 print : engraving and etching ; image 46.9 x 37.4 cm

Lettering

Der Weise. Fliesst hin, ihr Tage meines Lebens / Für mich benutzt und nicht vergebens / Fur meiner Mitgeschoepfe Glück. Uz. Nach dem etwas grösseren Original gemählte. Gemahlt von J.E. Schenau 1773 ; und gestochen von C.F. Stoelzel 1774

References note

Litterarische Nachrichten von den Werken der besten Schriftsteller unserer Zeit, I.ii, Vienna 1775, Anhang zu den litterarischen Nachrichten, 1, 29 April 1775, pp. 5-7
Carl Ludwig Junker, Erste Grundlage zu einer ausgesuchten Sammlung neuer Kupferstiche, Bern 1776, pp. 50-51
Karl Wilhelm Dassdorf, Beschreibung der vorzüglichsten Merkwürdigkeiten der Churfürstlichen Residenzstadt Dresden und einiger umliegenden Gegenden, Dresden 1782, p. 654

Lettering note

The verses are by the poet Johann Peter Uz (1720-1796)

Reference

Wellcome Library no. 2863614i

Languages

  • German


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