This work was published by Professor Ferdinando Arisi as by Panini and dating from the late 1720s (loc. cit.). Panini was born in Piacenza in 1691, where he trained as a stage designer under Francesco Galli-Bibiena. In 1711 he moved to Rome to study figure drawings and remained there for the rest of his life as an influential member of its artistic community. In 1719 he entered the Accademia di San Luca and in 1732 the Académie de France, where he served as professor of perspective drawing and optics. Among the many artists who were influenced by him are Hubert Robert and Jean-Honoré Fragonard.
Panini's facile figure drawing is exemplified in the foreground of the present work. The subject, the cynic philosopher Diogenes throwing away his cup, was related in Diogenes Laërtius' Lives of the Philosophers (Laërtius 6:37), written in the 3rd century B.C. According to the biographer, Diogenes abhorred material possessions to such a degree that he lived out his life in a tub, and, upon witnessing a child drinking water with his cupped hands, jettisoned his cup as an unnecessary trapping. By setting the ancient Greek narrative in ancient Rome, Panini defined the composition as a capriccio painting of the venerated past.
Panini's greatest success in Rome was consolidated by his painted views of the city often derived from compositions by van Wittel, which were in high demand by milordi inglesi as souvenirs of the Grand Tour. According to English author and critic Samuel Johnson, 'a man who has not been in Italy is always conscious of an inferiority'. Rome was an obligatory stop on the circuit. However, Panini's most original contribution to eighteenth-century art was the series of capriccio paintings using architectural elements of Ancient Rome. Through fantastic pyramids, Corinthian pilasters, Ionic columns, classical statuary and decorative friezes and bas-reliefs, the artist here introduces the romantic vision of the transient material world. Panini reinforced the vanitas element of his capriccio by prominently featuring Diogenes, a paragon of asceticism, along the central axis.