The deep broad form and convex centre suggest that this was once a monumental stand for a ewer rather than a charger. The scene simultaneously depicts two episodes from the life of the philosopher Diogenes. The print source for Diogenes and the plucked chicken appears to be Ugo da Carpi's chiaroscuro woodcut after Parmigianino (see p. 66), rather than the engraving of the same scene by Gian Giacomo Caraglio.
Diogenes of Sinope was a controversial philosopher who was exiled from his native city after defacing the currency. He settled in Athens where he made a name for himself living in a tub in the marketplace, and he quarreled with Plato, among others. The scene on the right of the present lot refers to an incident with Plato. After Plato had been praised for a definition of mankind as 'featherless bipeds', Diogenes was spurred to take a plucked chicken into Plato's Academy, declaring 'Behold! I have brought you a man'. 'With broad flat nails' was subsequently added to his definition as a consequence of this incident.
The scene on the left refers to a meeting that supposedly took place between Diogenes and Alexander The Great in Corinth. (Diogenes had reputedly been captured by pirates while on a voyage to Aegina, and sold as a slave to Xeniades, a Corinthian, and Diogenes spent the rest of his life in Corinth). Accounts slightly differ as to their brief conversation, but the generally quoted version is that Diogenes was relaxing in the sun when Alexander The Great arrived. The Emperor asked Diogenes if there was a favour he would like to ask of him, and Diogenes asked him to move out of the way as he was blocking the sunlight.
1. See Bartsch, Vol. 28, 61 (94).