Storia dell’Arte 113/114, Gennaio – Agosto 2006
John E. Gedo
A Crisis of Science Recorded in Paint: A Dialogue Concerning Two World Systems
A few years after it moved into its permanent quarters, the Art Institute of Chicago received on loan a pair of paintings of beggar philosophers (1897.291 and 1897.296), attributed to the Spanish School. In 1917, when the pictures were acquired by the museum, they were reattributed to Jusepe Ribera. Over the years, as the nature of Ribera’s art became better known, the attribution changed to «follower of Ribera,» and the protagonists were identified as Democritus and Heraclitus. When the Utrecht Centraal Museum acquired paired paintings of Democritus and Heraclitus signed by Jan Moreelse, strikingly similar to the pair in the Art Institute (the two Heraclitus works are almost identical,) Benedict Nicolson attributed the Chicago paintings to Jan Moreelse as well. This opinion was, however, later rejected by experts on Dutch art. Thus, for the time being, the painter of the Chicago philosophers remains unknown.