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John Martin (1789-1854)

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The Property of the late Hon. Sir Steven Runciman, CH., S.B.A., F.S.A.
John Martin (1789-1854)

Alexander visiting Diogenes

Details
John Martin (1789-1854) Alexander visiting Diogenes signed and dated 'J. Martin. 1832' (lower right) pencil, pen and grey ink and watercolour with gum arabic and with scratching out 9½ x 14½ in. (24.2 x 36.8 cm.)
Provenance
with Leger Galleries, London, 1954.
Special Notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

This is an illustration to the famous story, given in Plutarch's Life of Alexander, of how Alexander the Great encountered the cynic philosopher Diogenes living in a wooden tub on the outskirts of Corinth. On being asked if there was anything he wanted, Diogenes replied that he would like Alexander to move out of his sun. Martin displays a typical multitude of tiny figures against a fantastic townscape.

Martin had already treated the subject in a number of works including a small sepia drawing of 1817 (Oxford, Ashmoleam Museum); a small oil exhibited at the Egyptian Hall in 1822 (formerly Col. M. H. Grant collection), and a watercolour engraved by E. Finden in two different versions in 1827 (London, Victoria and Albert Museum). This last watercolour is squarer in format than the present version, 9 7/8 x 12 3/8 in., and shows the water descending on the left in two distinct falls, with a less varied and elaborate architectural background (see C. Johnstone, John Martin, London, 1974, p. 68, illustrated in colour).

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