"anecdote About Painter and Patron"

I need a sound bibliographic source to quote the following anecdote:

Some famous (Greek?) painter was asked by a king(?) to make a portrait

of his wife(?). He was so pleased with the painting that he said to

the painter: You may take her, I prefer the painting.

I think I read it in a Gombrich book, but I am not sure.

One thought on “"anecdote About Painter and Patron"

  1. I believe the anecdote you're seeking is about the painter Apelles,

    who painted Campaspe (sometimes known as known as Pancaste), the

    mistress of Alexander the Great. Alexander kept the painting, and gave

    Campaspe to Apelles.

    "When Renaissance patrons and men of letters wished to compliment an

    artist (including Titian himself), they would refer to him as Apelles,

    recalling the court artist of Alexander the Great. The magnitude of

    Apelles' genius was demonstrated, significantly, by his painting of a

    beautiful woman, that is, his nude portrait of Alexander's mistress,

    Campaspe. Seeing the beauty of the portrait, Alexander saw that the

    artist appreciated her (and loved her) more than he. And so Alexander

    'paid' for the portrait by presenting Campaspe to Apelles [Pliny,

    Natural History, 35.79-97]."

    State University of New York, Oneonta: Art History



    She is also known as Pancaste. Although she does never appear in the

    five major sources, modern author Lane Fox traces her existance back

    to the Roman authors Pliny (Natural History), Lucian and Aelian (Varia

    Historia). Campaspe was a concubine of Alexander and a prominent

    citizen of Larisa in Thessaly (Central Greece). According to Aelian

    she might have been the first woman with whom Alexander had sexual


    Alexander ordered his painter Apelles, presumably the only artist to

    be allowed to paint his image, to do a nude painting of Campaspe. But

    Apelles fell in love with Campaspe during the job. 'So Alexander gave

    him Campaspe as a present, the most generous gift of any patron and

    one which would remain a model for patronage and painters on through

    the Renaissance', writes Lane Fox. Or, as Bosworth says in his

    Conquest & Empire: 'Apelles depicted Alexander with the thunderbolt of

    Zeus in the celebrated painting for the Artemisium in Ephesus, and he

    was handsomely rewarded for doing so'.

    Painter Apelles also used Campaspe as a model for his most celebrated

    painting of Aphrodite (Venus) 'rising out of the sea'. She was

    'wringing her hair, and the falling drops of water formed a

    transparent silver veil around her form'."

    Pothos: Alexander's Lovers


    If you require a good retelling of the tale from a citable print

    source, here is one:

    "Perhaps it was his success in this picture that led Alexander to

    request Apelles to take a likeness of one of the distinguished

    beauties of his court, Campaspe, a young slave, of whose charms the

    ardent young monarch was passionately enamoured. Apelles was unwilling

    to refuse, and the young girl consented to sit for her picture. Day

    after day she came, and the artist apparently made but little progress

    in his work. He was aware that she was destined to grace the court of

    the monarch. At length, as she one day sat before him, he threw down

    his pallet and found himself at her feet. Campaspe quickly dropped her

    veil and retired without a word; from this time she appeared at the

    painters room no more. Alexander remarked that Apelles was silent and

    abstracted. He one day inquired why there was such delay with the

    picture of Campaspe. Great King, replied Apelles, wonder not that, the

    beauty which has moved the conquerer of the world, should subdue one

    of his subjects. You have assigned me a task beyond my powers. I love

    Campaspe ! And what says she to thee I said Alexander. Not a word !

    replied Apelles. The monarch too remained silent. The next day he

    ordered that the portrait should be completed; and again the young

    beauty appeared in the study of the artist. When the picture was

    finished, Apelles presented it to Alexander. I accept it, said the

    monarch; the picture is mine; Campaspe thine."

    Historical Sketches of the Old Painters. [The United States Democratic

    review. / Volume 1, Issue 2, January 1838, page 175]

    Library of Congress: The Nineteenth Century in Print: Periodicals


    My Google search strategy:

    Google Web Search: apelles alexander pancaste OR campaspe


    I hope this is precisely what you need. If it is not, or if anything

    is unclear, please request clarification; I'll be glad to offer

    further assistance before you rate my answer.

    Best regards,


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