You are on page 1of 2

Parrhasius (painter)

Parrhasius of Ephesus (Greek: Παρράσιος) was one of the greatest painters ofAncient Greece.

Contest with Zeuxis

Born to the painter Evenor, he settled in Athens. The period of his activity is fixed by the anecdote which Xenophon records of the
conversation between him and Socrates on the subject of art; he was therefore distinguished as a painter before 399 BC. Seneca
relates a tale that Parrhasius bought one of the Olynthians whom Philip sold into slavery, 346 BC, and tortured him in order to have a
model for a picture of the bound Prometheus for the Parthenon in Athens; but the story, which is similar to one told of Michelangelo,
is chronologically impossible.

Contest with Zeuxis

Pliny the Elder described Parrhasius's contest with Zeuxis in his book Naturalis Historia: The latter painted some grapes so perfectly
that a flock of birds flew down to eat them but, instead, only pecked at their picture. Zeuxis had fooled the birds with his picture.
Parrhasius and Zeuxis walked to Parrhasius's studio whereupon Parrhasius asked Zeuxis to draw aside the curtain and witness his
own masterpiece. When Zeuxis attempted to do so, he realized that the curtain was not a curtain, but a painting of a curtain. Zeuxis
acknowledged himself to be surpassed, for while Zeuxis had deceived the birds, Parrhasius had deceived Zeuxis. This one of the
earliest examples mentioned of the idea ofTrompe-l'œil.

Parrhasius was universally placed in the very first rank among painters. His skillful drawing of outlines is especially praised, and
many of his drawings on wood and parchment were preserved and highly valued by later painters for purposes of study. He first
attained skill in making his figures appear to stand out from the background. His picture of
Theseus adorned the Capitol in Rome. His
other works, besides the obscene subjects with which he is said to have amused his leisure, are chiefly mythological groups. A picture
of the Demos, the personified People of Athens, is famous; according to the story, which is probably based upon epigrams, the twelve
prominent characteristics of the people, though apparently quite inconsistent with each other
, were distinctly expressed in this figure.

Parrhasius is commemorated in the scientific name of a species of Australian lizard, Carlia parrhasius, the fire-tailed rainbow-

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911).
"Parrhasius". Encyclopædia Britannica(11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
1. Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp.ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Parrhasius", p. 201).

Retrieved from "


This page was last edited on 25 June 2017, at 15:38(UTC).

Text is available under theCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License ; additional terms may apply. By using this
site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of theWikimedia
Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

Related Interests