1. Of Thebes, was one of the most celebrated Greek painters. His father was Aristodemus, his teachers were Euxenidas and his brother Nicomachus. (Plin. Nat. 35.36
. §§ 7, 22.)
He was a somewhat older contemporary of Apelles (Plin. Nat. 35.36.19
), and flourished about 360-330 B. C.
The point in which he most excelled is thus described by Pliny (l.c.
): "Is omnium primus animum pinxit et sensus hominum expressit, quae vocant Graeci h)/qh, item perturbationes," that is, he depicted the feelings, expressions, and passions which may be observed in common life. One of his finest pictures was that of a babe approaching the breast of its mother, who was mortally wounded, and whose fear could be plainly seen lest the child should suck blood instead of milk. (Anthol. Graec.
ii. p. 251, Jacobs.) Fuseli (Lect.
l) has shewn how admirably in this picture the artist drew the line between pity and disgust. Alexander
admired the picture so much, that he removed it to Pella. Another of his pictures was a suppliant, whose voice you seemed almost to hear. Several other pictures of his are mentioned by Pliny (l.c.
), and among them an Iris (ib.
40.41), which, though unfinished, excited the greatest admiration.
As examples of the high price set upon his works, Pliny (ib.
36.19) tells us, that he painted a picture for Mnason, tyrant of Elatea, representing a battle with the Persians, and containing a hundred figures, for each of which Aristeides received ten minae; and that long after his death, Attalus, king of Pergamus, gave a hundred talents for one of his pictures. (Ib.
In another passage (35.8) Pliny tells us, that when Mummius was selling the spoils of Greece, Attalus bought a picture of Bacchus by Aristeides for 600,000 sesterces, but that Mummius, having thus discovered the value of the picture, refused to sell it to Attalus, and took it to Rome, where it was placed in the temple of Ceres, and was the first foreign painting which was exposed to public view at Rome.
The commentators are in doubt whether these two passages refer to the same picture. (See also Strab. viii. p.381
.) Aristeides was celebrated for his pictures of courtezans, and hence he was called πορνογράφος
. (Athen. 13.567
He was somewhat harsh in his colouring. (Plin. Nat. 35.36.19
According to some authorities, the invention of encaustic painting in wax (Dict. of Ant. s.v. Painting,
pp. 685, 686) was ascribed to Aristeides, and its perfection to Praxiteles; but Pliny observes, that there were extant encaustic pictures of Polygnotus, Nicanor, and Arcesilaus. (35.39.)
Aristeides left two sons, Nicerus and Ariston, to whom he taught his art. [ARISTON; NICEROS.]
Another Aristeides is mentioned as his disciple. (Plin. Nat. 35.36.23
The words of Pliny, which are at first sight somewhat obscure, are rightly explained in the following table by Sillig. (Catal. Art. s. v. Antorides.