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Pietro de' Pietri (1663-1716)

Apelles painting Campaspe c. 1700

Black chalk, washed over in places | 32.2 x 16.3 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 905648

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Alexander the Great asked his court artist Apelles to paint a portrait of his concubine, Campaspe, but while doing so Apelles fell in love with her. Alexander intuited from the painting that Apelles' love for Campaspe was greater than his own, so he kept the painting but magnanimously gave Campaspe to the painter. The episode combines themes of the power of art and the generosity of a patron, and in commissioning a painting of the subject a collector could demonstrate that he was conscious of both.