Alexander the Great Cutting the Gordian Knot by Giovanni Paolo Pannini
Alexander the Great Cutting the Gordian Knot by Giovanni Paolo Pannini

Alexander the Great Cutting the Gordian Knot

Alexander the Great Cutting the Gordian Knot c1718-19 by Italian Artist Giovanni Paolo Pannini (1691–1765); known as an architect and painter of his vistas of Rome, detailing the antiquities of that great city.

This piece follows the legend of the Phrygians an an ancient Indo-European speaking people, who inhabited central-western Anatolia in antiquity; and were related to the Greeks.

The Phrygians were without a king; but an oracle at Telmissus, the ancient capital of Lycia decreed that the next man to enter the city that was driving an ox-cart should become their king.

Then a peasant farmer named Gordias came into the city on an ox-cart and was promptly declared king; and out of gratitude, his son Midas dedicated the ox-cart his father was driving to the Phrygian god Sabazios; whom the Greeks identified with Zeus and tied it to a post with an intricate knot of cornel bark.

The ox-cart still stood in the palace of the former kings of Phrygia at Gordium in the fourth century BC when Alexander the Great arrived there; by which time the kingdom of Phrygia had been reduced to a satrapy, or province, of the Persian Empire.

Then another oracle declared that the man capable of unraveling the elaborate knot was destined to become the ruler of Asia; and so Alexander gave his hand at unraveling the knot with little success; but he reasoned that it mad no difference how the knot was unraveled, so he drew his sword and sliced it mid way with a single stroke.

This is a retouched digital art reproduction of a public domain image.

Information Above & Below Is Derived From Wikipedia.org

Giovanni Paolo Panini or Giovanni Paolo Pannini was a painter and architect who worked in Rome and is primarily known as one of the vedutisti (“view painters”).

As a painter, Pannini is best known for his vistas of Rome, in which he took a particular interest in the city’s antiquities.

Among his most famous works are his view of the interior of the Pantheon (on behalf of Francesco Algarotti 1712 – 1764 – A Venetian Polymath), and his vedute paintings of picture galleries containing views of Rome.

Most of his works, especially those of ruins, have a fanciful and unreal embellishment characteristic of capriccio themes. In this they resemble the capricci of Italian Painter and Printmaker Marco Ricci (1676 – 1730).

Panini also painted portraits, including one of Pope Benedict XIV (born Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini 1675 – 1758 – Head of the Catholic Church from 1740 – 1758).

In Rome, Panini earned a name for himself as a decorator of palaces. Some of his works included the Villa Patrizi c1719/25, the Palazzo de Carolis c1720, and the Seminario Romano c1721/22).

In 1719, Panini was admitted to the Congregazione dei Virtuosi al Pantheon. He taught in Rome at the Accademia di San Luca and the Académie de France, where he is said to have influenced Jean-Honoré Fragonard. In 1754, he served as the prince (director) of the Accademia di San Luca.

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