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Studies for the Death of Empedokles

Salvator RosaAfter 1666

SMK - Statens Museum for Kunst

SMK - Statens Museum for Kunst

Salvator Rosa’s style of drawing in the late 1660s was dynamic and spontaneous, as is evident in Studies for the Death of Empedocles.

Motifs from the literature

Rosa belonged to the Neapolitan school and was active in his home town of Naples as well as in Rome and Florence. He often looked to literature for inspiration and was fond of depicting lonely philosophers against sublime landscapes.

The story of Empedocles

This drawing is a splendid account of the philosopher Empedocles throwing himself into the crater of the volcano Etna as described in the writings of the poet Diogenes Laërtius. The figure is captured in several sequences. The fingers are tense, the arms are stiff, accentuating the horror that Empedocles experiences.The lines are full of energy and infused with a temperamental virtuosity. The movement in the drawing goes from right to left, helping the sense of speed and dynamics.

Empedocles hoped that vanishing without a trace from the top of the volcano would make people believe that he had been raised up to join the Olympian gods. He did, however, prove a common mortal when the volcano spat out one of his sandals.

The moral message

Rosa’s depiction of the scene contains a moral message, describing man’s irresistible urge to surrender to the forces of nature.

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  • Title: Studies for the Death of Empedokles
  • Creator: Salvator Rosa
  • Date Created: After 1666
  • Værktekst: Det er karakteristisk for Salvator Rosas tegnestil i slutningen af 1660’erne, at den er dynamisk og spontan, således også i Studier til Empedokles’ død. Motiver fra litteraturen Rosa hører til den neapolitanske skole og virker i hjembyen Napoli, Rom og Firenze. Han hentede ofte inspiration til sine motiver i litteraturen og yndede at skildre den ensomme filosof i den store natur. Tegningens gengivelse af Empedokles I tegningen gengives på formidabel vis filosoffen Empedokles, der kaster sig i Etnas krater, som det blev beskrevet af den antikke forfatter Diogenes Laërtius. Figuren er fastholdt i flere sekvenser. Fingrene er spændte, armene stive for at understrege den rædsel, som Empedokles oplever. Stregen er energisk og præget af temperamentsfuld virtuositet. Bevægelsen i tegningen går imod læseretningen og er med til at skabe fart og dynamik. Empedokles håbede, at hans sporløse forsvinden på toppen af vulkanen ville få folk til at tro, at han var blevet optaget blandt de olympiske guder. Men han viste sig som en almindelig dødelig, da vulkanen spyede en af hans sandaler ud. Det moralske budskab Skildringen i Rosas tegning indeholder et moralsk budskab og beskriver menneskets uimodståelige drift mod at give sig den vilde natur i vold.
  • Teknik: Pen og brunt blæk
  • Proveniens: Erhvervet før 1887
  • Provenance: Acquired before 1887
  • Physical Dimensions: w18.3 x h12.7 cm (Without frame)
  • Dansk link: http://www.smk.dk/index.php?id=1298
  • Dansk Titel: Studier til Empedokles' død
  • Type: Pen
  • Rights: Statens Museum for Kunst, http://www.smk.dk/en/copyright/creative-commons/
  • Medium: Pen, brown ink

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