, a very famous painter of antiquity, flourished about 400 years before Christ, or about the 95th Olympiad. The particulars relating to his country are a little confused: for though Tully, Pliny, and ^lian, agree in affirming that he was of Heraclea, yet they have not, among the numerous cities of that name, told us the Heraclea in which Zeuxis was born. Pliny represents the art of painting, the rudiments of which had been discovered by Apollod’orus, to have been carried to considerable perfection by this painter. Some authors relate, that he found out the manner of disposing lights and shades; and he is allowed to have excelled in colouring, Aristotle censured this defect in- his paintings, that the manners or passions were not expressed in them yet Pliny asserts the contrary with regard to the picture of Penelopein which Zeuxis,” says he, “seems to have painted the manners.

This painter amassed immense riches; and he once made a shew of them at the Olympic games, where he appeared in a cloak embroidered with gold letters expressing his name. When he found himself thus rich, he would not sell his works any longer, but gave them away, because, he said, no price could be set upon them. His Helen was | his most celebrated picture. He wrote underneath this picture the three verses of the Iliad, in which Homer represents Priam and the venerable sages of his council confessing that the Greeks and Trojans were not to blame for having exposed themselves to so many calamities for the love of Helen; her beauty equalling that of the goddesses. It cannot be very well determined, whether this Helen of Zeuxis be the same as that which was at Rome in Pliny’s time; or that which he painted for the inhabitants of Crotona, to be hung up in the temple of Juno. They had prevailed upon him to come among them, by giving him a large sum, in order to paint a great number of pictures, with which they intended to adorn this temple; and were not a little pleased when he told them, that he intended to draw the picture of Helen, as his chief excellence lay in painting womem This extraordinary picture he executed by combining the beauties of various living models; and this method of forming perfection he learned from Homer, whose mode of ideal composition was his rule.

Many curious particulars are recorded of this painter; among others we are told that he had painted some grapes so very naturally, that the birds used to come and peck them; and Parrhasius painted a curtain so artfully, that Zeuxis, mistaking it for a real curtain, which hid his rival’s work, ordered it to be drawn aside, that he might see Parrhasius’s painting; but, finding his mistake, he confessed himself vanquished; since he had only imposed upon birds, whereas Parrhasius had misled even those who were masters of the art. Another time, he painted a boy loaded with grapes, when the birds flew again to this picture, at which he was vexed; and frankly confessed, that it was not sufficiently finished, since, had he painted the boy as perfectly as the grapes, the birds would have been afraid of him. Archelaus, king of Macedon, made use of Zeuxis’s pencil for the embellishment of his house; upon which Socrates made this reflection, as it is preserved by Æian: “Archelaus,” said he, “has laid out a vast sum, of money upon his house, but nothing upon himself: whence it is, that numbers come from all parts of the world to see his house, but none to see him; except those who are tempted by his money and presents, and who wilt not be found among the worthiest of men.

One of Zeuxis’s finest pieces was a Hercules strangling some dragons in his cradle, in the presence of his frighted | mother: but he himself esteemed chiefly his athleta, of champion, under which he made a verse that became afterwards proverbial, viz. “that it would be easier to envy than to imitate that picture.” It is probable, that he valued his Alcmena, since he presented it to the Agrigentines. He did not paint with rapidity; and used to say to those who reproached him with slowness, that “he was indeed a long time in painting, but that it was also to last a long time.Lucian has given us a description of a picture of Zeuxis, that of a female centaur. As to his death, we are told that having painted an old woman, he laughed so heartily at his performance that he died. This circumstance is related by Verrius Flaccus, under the word Pictor but it is probably fabulous. 1


Plin. Nat. Hist.—Junius de Pictura Veterum.—Gen. Dict.—Fuseli’s Lectures, Lect. I.