1. A painter, of the highest distinction, was (according to the common text of Pliny) a Theban, the son and disciple of the painter Aristodemus, the elder brother and teacher of the great painter Aristeides, and the father and teacher of Aristocles. (Plin. H. N.
35.10. s. 36.22.)
We have thus the following stemma :--
But the names vary in the MSS., and in the Bamberg MS. they are altogether different, giving the following stemma: --
To decide with certainty between the readings is impossible: it may, however, be remarked that there is no other passage in which the names of Aristodemus and Aristocles occur. (Comp. the Kunstblatt,
for 1832, p. 188.)
Nicomlachus flourished under Aristratus of Sicyon, and Philip of Macedonia.
He may therefore be placed at B. C. 360, and onwards.
He was an elder contemporary of Apelles and Protogenes.
He is frequently mentioned by the ancient writers in terms of the highest praise. Cicero says that in his works, as well as in those of Echion, Protogenes, and Apelles, every thing was already perfect. (Brutus,
18.) Plutarch mentions his paintings, with the poems of Homer, as possessing, in addition to their force and grace, the appearance of having been executed with little toil or effort. (Timol.
36.) Vitruvius mentions him as among the artists who were prevented from attaining to the very highest fame, not from any want of skill or industry, but from accidental circumstances (iii. Prooem.
Pliny tells us that Nicomachus was one of the artists who used only four colours (H. N.
35.7. s. 32; comp. Dict. of Antiq. s. v. Colores
), and that, like Parrhasius, he used the Eretrian ochre in his shadows (ibid.
6. s. 21).
He was one of the most rapid of painters.
As an example, Pliny relates that, having been commissioned by Aristratus to paint the monument which he was erecting to the poet Telestes, Nicomachus postponed the commencement of the work so long as to incur the anger of the tyrant, but, at last, beginning it only a few days before the time fixed for its completion, he fulfilled his engagement with no less skill than rapidity. (Plin. Nat. 35.10. s. 36.22
As his works, Pliny mentions, the Rape of Proserpine, which once hung above the shrine of Youth (Juventas
) in the temple of Minerva, on the Capitol: a Victory with a four-horsed chariot (quadrigam in sublime rapiens
), also in the Capitol, where it had been placed by Plancus: Apollo and Diana: Cybele riding on a lion: a celebrated picture of female bacchanals, surprised by satyrs stealing upon them: and a Scylla, at Rome, in the temple of Peace (Plin. l.
He was the first who painted Ulysses with the pileus (ibid.).
Pliny also mentions his unfinished picture of the Tyndaridae, among the examples of unfinished works by great masters, which were more highly admired thai even their perfect paintings. (H. N.
35.11. s. 40.41.) His disciples were his brother Aristeides, his son Aristocles, and Philoxenes of Eretria (Plin. l.c.
36.22; but compare the commencement of this article), and also Corybas (ibid.
40. -§ 42).
61) has preserved an interesting sayiug of Nicomachus.
An amateur remarking to him that he could see no beauty in the Helen of Zeuxis, the painter, replied, " Take my eyes, and a goddess will be revealed to you."
The sameanswer is ascribed by Aelian (Ael. VH 14.47
) to a certain Nicostratus, who is not mentioned elsewhere, and whose name is therefore probably an error for Nicomachus.