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Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

“Plato” by Jusepe de Ribera

"Plato" by Jusepe de Ribera

“Plato” by Jusepe de Ribera

“Plato” by Jusepe de Ribera is shown looking to the heavens and towards the light to symbolize his significant influence on Saint Augustine and as a consequence, Christianity. Plato advocated a belief in the immortality of the soul, and several of his famous dialogues end with long speeches imagining the afterlife.

The asceticism depicted in this composition was in keeping with Spanish Catholicism and is distinctive of the saints and philosophers that Ribera painted. Plato is portrayed with deep creases in his worn face, but with sturdy hands that hold what he treasures.

Plato is portrayed wearing ragged robes to symbolize the “beggar philosopher,” a popular rhetorical device in the seventeenth century. Plato is shown surrounded by a light reminiscent of Caravaggio. This painting is part of a series of six portraits of ancient philosophers commissioned by various wealthy and powerful sponsors.

De Ribera’s”Philosophers” series of paintings all echo a powerful evocation of a philosopher deep in contemplation.

Plato

Plato ( 428 – 347 BC) was an Athenian philosopher in Ancient Greece. He was the founder of the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Plato was the innovator of the written dialogue and dialectic forms in philosophy. Platonism and “Platonic love” are his namesake.

He was the pivotal figure in the history of Western philosophy, along with his teacher, Socrates, and his most famous student, Aristotle. His influence extended to the philosophers who influenced Saint Augustine and as a consequence, Christianity. Plato advocated a belief in the immortality of the soul, and several dialogues end with long speeches imagining the afterlife.

What we know about Socrates and Pythagoras is from Plato, as few of his predecessors’ works survived. Most of what we know about these figures today derives from Plato himself. Unlike the work of nearly all of his contemporaries, Plato’s entire body of work is believed to have survived intact for over 2,400 years. Plato’s works have never been without readers and admirers since the time they were written.

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.

Plato

  • Title:                     Plato
  • Artist:                   Jusepe de Ribera
  • Date:                    1637
  • Medium:              Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:         Height: 124.3 cm (48.9 ″); Width: 99.1 cm (39 ″)
  • Museum:              Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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 Plato

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“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

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“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

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“At a touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.”

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“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”

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“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.”

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“Be kind; for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

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“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”

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“Man, a being in search of meaning.”

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“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

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“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.”

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“A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.”

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“Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.”

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“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
– Plato

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Photo Credit: Jusepe de Ribera [Public domain]

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