(b. 1628, Amsterdam, d. 1675, Haarlem)

Xantippe Dousing Socrates

c. 1655
Oil on canvas, 210 x 198 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg

This painting was formerly ascribed to Jan Victors, the Caesar van Everdingen. Its attribution changed very recently to Reyer van Blommendael.

The theme of this picture is unique in painting. The philosopher Socrates sits on the right on two steps that form a horizontal stone 'entrance' to the scene. This is a common device in work by the Haarlem classicists from after 1625. The shabbily dressed Socrates wears rags wrapped around his legs and secured with pieces of string Socrates can be identified by his irregular features and his motto which is carved in Greek letters on the stone slab on which he leans. He pays no heed whatsoever as his wife Xantippe scolds him and proceeds to empty the contents of a vessel over his head.

Van Blommendael was probably influenced by a print depicting the same subject by Otto van Veen in 1606. An earlier illustration of a woman humiliating her husband by dousing him with the content of a vessel can be found in Dürer's painting of Job and His Wife from c. 1504.