Democritus, a pre-Socratic philosopher born around 460 BC, shunned society and declined public honours in order to pursue undisturbed his studies and, in Rosa's interpretation, melancholy speculations. Rosa altered the traditional image of Democritus as the laughing philosopher, here showing him overwhelmed with grief and despair in the face of the vanity and futility of all things. The inscription proclaims: 'Democritus, the mocker of all things is here stopped by the ending of all things'.
etching and drypoint
46.3 x 27.7 cm platemark; 46.6 x 27.9 cm sheet (irreg.)
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of Margaret Delmer 1985
Not on display
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Piety and Paganism, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Jul 1991–29 Sep 1991
Mantegna to Piranesi - Italian Old Master Prints from the Collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 Jun 1998–20 Sep 1998
Old Europe: Prints & drawings from the collection 1500-1800, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 03 Jun 2006–06 Aug 2006
European prints and drawings 1500-1900, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Aug 2014–02 Nov 2014
Referenced in 2 publications
Nicolas Draffin, Piety and Paganism, 'Introduction', pg. 3-5, Sydney, 1991, 4, 10. no catalogue numbers
Peter Raissis, Mantegna to Piranesi - Italian old master prints from the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1998, 5, 8. no catalogue numbers