Protogenes

, a famous ancient painter, was a native of Caunus, a city of Caria subject to the Rhodians. Who was his father, or his mother, is not known biit it is probable enough that he had no other master than the public pieces that he saw; and perhaps his parents, being poor, could not be at any such expence for his education in the art, as was customary at that time. It is certain that he was obliged at first to paint ships for his livelihood: but his ambition was not be rich; his aim being solely to be master of his profession. He finished his pictures with such anxious care, that Apelles said of him, he never knew when he had done well. The finest of his pieces was the picture of Jalisus, mentioned by several authors without giving any description of it, or telling us who Jalisus was some suppose him to have been a famous hunter, and the founder of Rhodes. It is said that for seven years, while Protogenes worked on this picture, all his food was lupines mixed with a little water, which served him both for meat and drink *. Apelles was so struck with this piece, that he could find no words to express his admiration. It was this same picture that saved the city of Rhodes, when besieged by king Demetrius; for, not being able to attack it but on that side where Protogenes was at work, he chose rather to abandon his hopes of conquest, than to destroy so fine a piece as that of Jalisus.

The story of the contest between Protogenes and Apelles is well known by the tale which Prior has founded on it. Apelles, hearing of the reputation of Protogenes, went to Rhodes on purpose to see his works. On his arrival there, he found in the house only an old woman who asking his name, he answered, “I am going to write it upon the canvas that lies here;” and, taking his pencil with colour On

* After seven years spent upon it, threw his sponge against it in order to

he umained still chagrined, because efface it; and this luckily produced by

having represented in it a dog panting chance what his art could not effect.

and out of breath, he was not able to The same story, however, is told of

draw the foam at his month which Neocles and Apelles, respecting the

vexed biui to such a degree ttfat he foam of a horse. | it, designed something with extreme delicacy. Protogenes coming home, the old woman told him what had passed, and shewed him the canvas who, then attentively observing the beauty of the lines, said it was certainly Apelles who had been there, and taking another colour, he drew on those lines an outline more correct and more delicate; after which he went out again, bidding the old woman shew that to the person who had been there, if he returned, and, tell him that was the man he inquired for. Apelles returning, and being ashamed to see himself outdone, took a third colour, and, among the lines that had been drawn, laid on some with so much judgment, as to comprise all the subtlety of the art. Protogenes saw these in his turn, confessed his inferiority, and ran in haste to find out Apelles.

Pliny, who tells this story, says that he saw this piece of canvas, before it was consumed in the fire which burnt the emperor’s palace; that there was nothing upon it, but some lines, which could scarcely be distinguished; and yet this fragment was more valued than any of the pictures among which it was placed. The same author informs us that Apelles asking this rival what price he had for his pictures; and Protogenes naming an inconsiderable sum, according to the hard fortune of those who are obliged to work for their bread, Apelles, concerned at the injustice done to the beauty of his productions, gave him fifty talents, equal to 10,000l. for one picture only, declaring publicly, that he would make it pass and sell it for his own. This generosity opened the eyes of the Rhodians as to the merit of Protogenes, and made them purchase this picture at a much greater price than Apelles had given. Pliny also informs us, that Protogenes was a sculptor as well as a painter. He flourished about the 108th olympiad, or 308 B. C. Quintilian, observing the talent of six famous painters, says, Protogenes excelled in exactness, Pamphilius and Melanthus in the disposition, Antiphilus in easiness, Theon the Samian, in fruitfulness of ideas, and Apelles’in grace and ingenious conceptions. 1

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Plin. Nat. Hist.