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In the center Raphael (In the School of Athens) as Apelles, with his friend "Sodoma" as Protogenes

Protogenes (fl. 4th century BC) was a ancient Greek painter, a contemporary rival of Apelles.

He was born, in Caunus, on the coast of Caria, but resident in Rhodes during the latter half of the 4th century BC. He was celebrated for the minute and laborious finish which he bestowed on his pictures, both in drawing and in color. Apelles, his great rival, standing astonished in presence of one of these works, could only console himself by saying that it was wanting in charm.

On one picture, the Ialysus, he spent seven years; on another, the Satyr, he worked continuously during the siege of Rhodes by Demetrius Poliorcetes (305/304 BC) notwithstanding that the garden in which he painted was in the middle of the enemy's camp. Demetrius, unsolicited, took measures for his safety; more than that, when told that the Ialysus just mentioned was in a part of the town exposed to assault, Demetrius changed his plan of operations. Ialysus was a local hero, the founder of the town of the same name in the island of Rhodes, and probably he was represented as a huntsman. This picture was still in Rhodes in the time of Cicero, but was afterwards removed to Rome, where it perished in the burning of the Temple of Peace. The picture painted during the siege of Rhodes consisted of a satyr leaning idly against a pillar on which was a figure of a partridge, so life-like that ordinary spectators saw nothing but it. Enraged on this account, the painter wiped out the partridge.

The Satyr must have been one of his last works. He would then be about seventy years of age, and had enjoyed for about twenty years a reputation next only to that of Apelles, his friend and benefactor. Both were finished colorists so far as the fresco painting of their day permitted, and both were laborious in the practice of drawing, doubtless with the view to obtaining bold effects of perspective as well as fineness of outline. It was an illustration of this practice when Apelles, finding in the house of Protogenes a large panel ready prepared for a picture, drew upon it with a brush a very fine line which he said would tell sufficiently who had called. Protogenes on his return home took a brush with a different color and drew a still finer line along that of Apelles dividing it in two. Apelles called again; and, thus challenged, drew with a third color another line within that of Protogenes, who then admitted himself surpassed. This panel was seen by Pliny (N.H. xxxv. 83) in Rome, where it was much admired, and where it perished by fire.

In the gallery of the Propylaea at Athens was to be seen a panel by Protogenes. The subject consisted of two figures representing personifications of the coast of Attica, Paralus and Hammonias. For the council chamber at Athens he painted figures of the Thesmothetae, but in what form or character is not known. Probably these works were executed in Athens, and it may have been then that he met Aristotle, who recommended him to take for subjects the deeds of Alexander the Great. In his Alexander and Pan, he may have followed that advice in the idealizing spirit to which he was accustomed.

To this spirit must be traced also his Cydippe and Tlepolemus, legendary personages of Rhodes. Among his portraits are mentioned those of the mother of Aristotle, Philiscus the tragic poet, and King Antigonus. But Protogenes was also a sculptor to some extent, and made several bronze statues of athletes, armed figures, huntsmen and persons in the act of offering sacrifices.

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.

Stelios Lydakis, Ancient Greek Painting and Its Echoes in Later Art Publisher: Getty Publishing ISBN: 0892366834

...We read of his conversing with the philosopher Aristotle , of whose mother he painted a portrait, and of his being engaged on his most famous work, a picture of a Rhodian hero, at the time of the siege of Rhodes by Demetrius (304 BC). He was an extremely painstaking artist, inclined to excessive elaboration in his work. Apelles, who is always represented as of amiable and generous character, is reported as saying that Protogenes was his equal or superior in every point but one, the one inferiority of Protogenes being that he did not know when to stop. According to another anecdote Apelles, while profoundly impressed by Protogenes's masterpiece, the Rhodian hero above referred to, pronounced it lacking in that quality of grace which was his own most eminent merit. [Footnote: Plutarch, "Life of Demetrius," Section 22.] There are still other anecdotes, which give an entertaining idea of the friendly rivalry between these two masters, but which do not help us much in imagining their artistic qualities. As regards technique, it seems likely that both of them practiced principally "tempera" painting, in which the colors are mixed with yolk of eggs or some other sticky non-unctuous medium. [Footnote: Oil painting was unknown in ancient times.] Both Apelles and Protogenes are said to have written technical treatises on the painter's art. F. B. Tarbell, History of Greek Art

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