UNKNOWN MASTER, Netherlandish
(active 1610s in Amsterdam)
This emblem is taken from a book "Den gulden winckel der konstlievende Nederlanders" by Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679), a famous Dutch writer and playwright. The book was published in 1613 in Amsterdam. The emblem illustrates Pliny the Elder's legendary tale of the competition between the ancient Greek painters Zeuxis and Parrhasius. According to Pliny the two painters entered into a contest of artistic skill. Zeuxis painted grapes with such lifelikeness that they deceived birds who attempted to eat them. When Zeuxis asked Parrhasius to open the curtain on his painting to unveil its subject the former was bested because the skillful illusion of the latter's painted curtain had completely deceived him: Zeuxis did not realize that the curtain was actually the painting's subject.