Sunday 11 November 2012

World's first "Photoshop disaster"?

Poorly edited images are a side-effect of the digital age, but there were precedents in antiquity, to judge from Plutarch's Life of Aratus 33 (here is Perrin's 1926 translation):

"For the fame of Sicyon's refined and beautiful paintings was still in full bloom, and they alone were thought to have a beauty that was indestructible. Therefore even the great Apelles, when he was already admired, came to Sicyon and gave a talent that he might be admitted into the society of its artists, desiring to share their fame rather than their art. Hence it was that Aratus, although he at once destroyed the other portraits of the tyrants when he had given the city its freedom, deliberated a long time about that of Aristratus (who flourished in the time of Philip of Macedon). For it was the work of Melanthus and all his pupils, and Aristratus was painted standing by a chariot in which was a Victory; Apelles also had a hand in the painting, as we are told by Polemon the Topographer. And the work was a marvellous one, so that Aratus was moved by the artistic skill therein; but afterwards, such was his hatred of the tyrants, that he ordered it to be removed and destroyed. Accordingly, the painter Nealces, who was a friend of Aratus, interceded with him for the picture, as we are told, and with tears, and when he could not persuade him, said that war should be waged against the tyrants, but not against the treasures of the tyrants. 'Let us therefore leave the chariot and the Victory, but Aristratus himself I will undertake to remove from the picture.' Aratus therefore yielded, and Nealces erased the figure of Aristratus, and in its place painted a palm-tree merely, not daring to introduce anything else. We are told, however, that the feet of the erased figure of Aristratus were left by an oversight beneath the chariot."

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