Zeuxis ( Ζεύξις) and Parrhasius, painters of Ephesus in the 5th century BC, are reported in the Naturalis Historia of Pliny the Elder to have staged a contest to determine which of the two was the greater artist. When Zeuxis unveiled his painting of grapes, they appeared so luscious and inviting that birds flew down from the sky to peck at them. Zeuxis then asked Parrhasius to pull aside the curtain from his painting. When it was discovered that the curtain itself was Parrhasius' painting, Zeuxis was forced to concede defeat, for while his work had managed to fool the eyes of birds, Parrhasius had deceived the eyes of an artist.
Zeuxis most notable works included Helen, Zeus Enthroned, and The Infant Hercules Strangling the Serpent. He is said to have laughed to death at one of his own paintings.
Who where the two artists of ancient times who competed to see who could paint the visible world most faithfully? “Now I shall prove to you that I am the best,” said the first, showing the other a curtain which he had painted. “Well, draw back the curtain,” said the adversary, “and let us see the picture.” “The curtain is the picture,” replied the first with a laugh.
See also Painting (Zographia, Graphe)
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