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Euclid by Jusepe de Ribera

Euclid by Jusepe de Ribera

Euclid by Jusepe de Ribera

Euclid by Jusepe de Ribera, depicts the “father of geometry,” emerging from the shadows behind a table. Presented as a solemn scholar displaying his well-worn book with various geometric figures and Pseudo-Greek characters. De Ribera focused his all skills to the man’s facial details, from the unkempt beard to creases of his forehead and the folds of the lids above his dark eyes. Depicted as a man with tattered clothes and blackened, grimy fingers to emphasize Euclid’s devotion to the intellectual, rather than material, pursuits.

The presence of mathematical diagrams in the illegible book reveals the figure’s identity as Euclid, the famous mathematician from over two thousand years ago, best known for his treatise on geometry. Portraits of wise men and philosophers were popular in the 1600s when there was a revived interest in ancient Greek philosophy. Rather than portraying the subject as a refined and noble figure, Ribera depicted him as an individual dedicated to his work.

This painting is part of a series of six portraits of ancient philosophers, painted by Jusepe de Ribera and commissioned by the Prince of Liechtenstein in 1636. An early inventory listed the philosophers as Aristotle, Plato, Crates, Anaxagoras, Protagoras, and Diogenes.

Euclid

Euclid (about 300 BC), sometimes called Euclid of Alexandria, was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the “father of geometry.” His mathematical treatise called “Elements” is one of the most influential works in the history of mathematics. It served as the leading textbook for teaching mathematics from the time of its publication until the late 19th or early 20th century.

In the Elements, Euclid deduced the theorems of what is now called Euclidean geometry from a small set of axioms. Euclid also wrote works on perspective, conic sections, spherical geometry, number theory, and mathematical rigor. The English name Euclid is the anglicized version of his Greek name which means “renowned, glorious.”

Euclid’s Elements

Euclid’s “Elements” is a mathematical treatise consisting of 13 books. It is a collection of definitions, postulates, propositions, and mathematical proofs of the propositions. The books cover plane and solid Euclidean geometry, elementary number theory, and incommensurable lines. “Elements” is the oldest surviving large-scale deductive treatment of mathematics.

Euclid’s Elements has been referred to as the most successful and influential textbook ever written. It was one of the very earliest mathematical works to be printed after the invention of the printing press and has been estimated to be second only to the Bible in the number of editions published since the first printing in 1482.

For centuries, all university students were required to know at least part of Euclid’s Elements and the concepts of proofs. Not until the 20th century, did it cease to be considered something all educated people had read.

Is this when fake facts first started to make an appearance?

Jusepe de Ribera

Jusepe de Ribera (1591 – 1652) was a Spanish painter and printmaker of the Spanish school, although his mature work was all done in Italy. His earlier style was founded on Caravaggio and Spanish and Venetian masters.

Along with his massive and predominating shadows, he retained from first to last a talent for local coloring. He delighted in subjects of horror. In the early 1630s, his style changed away from sharp contrasts of dark and light to a more diffused and golden lighting.

Ribera’s work remained in demand after his death, mainly through the hyper-naturalistic depictions of subjects. He painted the horrors and reality of human cruelty and showed he valued truth over idealism. However, many works attributed to him have been altered, discarded, damaged, and neglected during the periods of his obscurity.

Euclid

  • Title:                    Euclid
  • Artist:                  Jusepe de Ribera
  • Date:                   1630 – 1635
  • Medium:             Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:        Height: 1,251 mm (49.25 ″); Width: 924 mm (36.37 ″)
  • Museum:            Getty Center

Jusepe de Ribera

  • Name:              Jusepe de Ribera
  • Also known as: José de Ribera or Josep de Ribera
  • Born:                1591, Valencia, Spain
  • Died:                1652
  • Nationality:      Spanish
  • Notable works:

Exploring the Art of Philosophy

Quotes by Euclid

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“The laws of nature are but the mathematical thoughts of God.”

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“Handwriting is a spiritual designing, even though it appears by means of a material instrument.”

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“There is no Royal Road to Geometry.”

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“A straight line is said to have been cut in extreme and mean ratio when, as the whole line is to the greater segment, so is the greater to the lesser.”

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“A prime number is one (which is) measured by a unit alone.”

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“What has been affirmed without proof can also be denied without proof.”

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“A line is length without breadth.”

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“QED – Quod erat.”

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“In right-angled triangles, the square on the side subtending the right angle is equal to the squares on the sides containing the right angle.”

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“Better balance, less pain, and less restless leg syndrome.”

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“A ‘unit’ is that by virtue of which each of the things that exist is called one.”

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“A ‘number’ is a multiple composed of units.”

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“The laws of nature are but the mathematical thoughts of God.”
– Euclid

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Photo Credit: Getty Center [Public domain]

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