(b. 1634, Napoli, d. 1705, Napoli)

The Philosopher Cratetes

c. 1650
Oil on canvas, 113 x 90 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

Attributed to Strozzi in a nineteenth-century catalogue, this painting was later held to be a work of Ribera. This attribution was modified in favour of Luca Giordano. The majority of scholars have accepted the dating as 1650.

The subject was identified as the philosopher Cratetes. Imaginary portraits of ancient philosophers and the representation of events from their lives was very popular in seventeenth-century Italy, Holland and France. The trend can be connected to the new spread of Neostoicism, a philosophical current particularly common to Naples in the 1660's.

This painting is closely connected to the several series of philosophers that Giordano painted on the model of Ribera's two philosopher series, both carried out by the Spanish artist in the 1630's. Giordano's and Ribera's philosophers share the strong naturalistic and anti-ideal tendencies that were prized in Neapolitan neo-stoic intellectual circles; circles in which Giordano himself participated. The philosophers are depicted as simple people, dressed in poor clothing and with specific, unidealized physiognomic characterizations that derive directly from the live model.

An old copy of this painting, of slightly larger measurements (123 x 98 cm.), is in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.