PANNINI, Giovanni Paolo
(b. 1691, Piacenza, d. 1765, Roma)

Alexander the Great at the Tomb of Achilles

Oil on canvas, 73 x 65 cm
Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) is said to have ordered the tomb of Achilles (Greek hero in the Trojan War) to be opened so that he could pay homage to his legendary predecessor. Achilles's tomb was in what is today Turkey; to suggest an ancient setting outside the Roman world, Pannini introduced an Egyptian pyramid in the background. The painting and its companion, "Alexander the Great Cutting the Gordian Knot" represent Pannini's fantasy of the grandeur of the ancient world.