Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Adriaen van der Spelt and Frans van Mieris, Flower Piece with Curtain, 1658.

A Greek story about dueling painters: Zeuxis and Parrhasios are rival artists in the late fifth century BCE who enter into competition with one another. First Zeuxis paints bunches of grapes so exactly, so accurately, that birds fly down to peck at them. Parrhasios takes his turn now, and Zeuxis asks him to remove the curtain hanging over his picture. Parrhasios happily points out that the curtain is his painting.

Even Zeuxis agrees that he's lost the competition, considering himself superior to birds, and harder to fool.