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Diogenes Jean-Léon Gérôme, a Philosopher in the Eyes of an Artist

Farhad B. Naini, BDS, MSc, PhD, FDSRCS, MOrthRCS, FDSOrthRCS, FHEA1
[+] Author Affiliations
1St George’s Hospital and Medical School, London, England
JAMA Facial Plast Surg. 2013;15(6):401-402. doi:10.1001/jamafacial.2013.1885.
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Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) was a French painter, sculptor, and educator, and one of the most prominent academic artists of the late 19th century. He was fascinated by technical virtuosity in the style of Ingres and was an inventive illustrator in the style of his teacher Delaroche. As a professor in the École des Beaux-Arts, he was an extremely influential figure in the Paris art world and known for being hostile to the Impressionists.

When Greek philosophy is debated, the names of the “big 3” are often first on the list: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. However, one of the most significant characters in history was the philosopher Diogenes of Sinope (404-323 bc), depicted by Gérôme in one of his most beautiful paintings (Figure). The significance of the painting can be understood only with background knowledge of the life and philosophy of Diogenes.

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Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904)

Diogenes (1860). The painter’s name may be observed carved on the wall behind the philosopher. Oil on canvas. 74.5 × 101 cm. Copyright The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland. Courtesy of The Walters Art Museum, 2013.

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