Diogenes, an extremely austere cynic philosopher of the 4th Century BC, who lived in Athens and Corinth is the best known of the Cynics, a group of Greek philosophers that stressed stoic self-sufficiency and the rejection of luxury. He despised worldly possessions to such a degree that he lived in a barrel for a time.
This scene depicts Diogenes sitting in his barrel when Alexander the Great, who admired Diogenes, visited him. When Alexander said: Ask of me what thou wilt and thou shalt have it, Diogenes replied: Stand out of my Light.
A complete series depicting scenes from Diogenes' life was designed for Mortlake in the 1660s and 70s based on Salvatore Rosa engravings.