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Unsurpassed Works of Art

Updated on January 28, 2015
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Giotto's freehand drawing of a perfect circle for Pope Benedict IXArtists Apelles and Protogenes LinesCrab drawn free-hand by Draftsman Chuang-tzu [buro angla]
Giotto's freehand drawing of a perfect circle for Pope Benedict IX
Giotto's freehand drawing of a perfect circle for Pope Benedict IX | Source
Artists Apelles and Protogenes Lines
Artists Apelles and Protogenes Lines | Source
Crab drawn free-hand by Draftsman Chuang-tzu [buro angla]
Crab drawn free-hand by Draftsman Chuang-tzu [buro angla] | Source
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Giotto di BondoneApelles (L), Alexader and PancaspeRaphael (Center) as Apelles with friend Sodoma as Protogenes Chuang  tzu
Giotto di Bondone
Giotto di Bondone
Apelles (L), Alexader and Pancaspe
Apelles (L), Alexader and Pancaspe | Source
Raphael (Center) as Apelles with friend Sodoma as Protogenes
Raphael (Center) as Apelles with friend Sodoma as Protogenes | Source
Chuang  tzu
Chuang tzu

Leonardo da Vinci

  • One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.
  • Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master

Art works worth knowing

IN my readings, I have come across the following art works. I found them challenging, uniquely inspiring and could serve as perfect model for humanity’s struggle to do good and improve his lot. I sensed that it would be guilty on my part if I would do nothing and remain silent towards their preservation and full utilization. What I mean exactly is to pass on these art gems to this generation with prayers that they’ll find them interesting, useful and praiseworthy as they did to me

Giotto freehand drawing of a "Perfect Circle"

Using no drawing instruments, Giotto draws a PERFECT CIRCLE for Pope Benedict IX

This story was told by Giorgio Vasari

Pope Benedict was planning to have some paintings made in Saint Peter's Basilica. So he sent one of his courtiers to Tuscany to see what kind of a man Giotto was and what his works were like. On his way to see Giotto and to find out what other masters in painting and mosaic there were in Florence, this courtier talked with many masters in Sienna. He received samples of drawings and paintings from them. Then he arrived in Florence. One morning he found Giotto in his workshop. He told him what the pope wants. He politely requested Giotto a little drawing to bring to his Holiness.

Courteously, Giotto, took a sheet of paper and with a red pen drew a circle so perfect that it was a marvel to see it. Having done it, he turned smiling to the courtier and said, "Here's the drawing". Thinking that he was being laughed at, the courtier asked, "Am I to have no other drawing than this?" "This is enough and too much," replied Giotto, "send it with the others and see if it will be understood". The messenger, seeing that he could get nothing else, departed ill pleased, not doubting that he had been made a fool of. However, sending the other drawings to the Pope with the names of those who had made them, he sent also Giotto's, relating how he had made the circle without moving his arm and without compasses. Seeing Giotto's perfect circle coupled with the courtier testimony, the pope and many of his courtiers were convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Giotto was the greatest painter of his time.

About Giorgio Vasari and Giotto

About Giorgio Vasari (30 July 1511 – 27 June 1574) was an Italian painter, writer, historian and architect, who is today famous for his biographies of Italian artists.

More about GIOTTO di Bondone (Circa 1267- Jan. 8, 1337) He was simply known as Giotto, an Italian painter and architect from Florence in the late Middle Ages. According to Giovanni Villani, Giotto’s contemporary : “Giotto was the most sovereign master of painting in his time, who drew all his figures and their postures according to nature”.

APELLES and PROTOGENES Lines that were contemplated by connoisseurs as representations of Gods and Goddesses

As Re-Told By Guillaume Apollinaire:

This story about the lines drawn by Apelles and Protogenes, was first told by Pliny. the Eleder.
Apelles arrived one day on the island of Rhodes to see the works of Protogenes, who lived there. Protogenes was not in his studio when Apelles arrived. Only an old woman was there, keeping watch over a large canvas ready to be painted. Apelles did not leave his name. Instead, he drew on the canvas a line so fine that one could hardly imagine anything more perfect.

Now Protogenes was home. He noticed the line and, recognizing the hand of Apelles, drew on top of it another line in a different color, even more subtle than the first, thus making it appear as if there were three lines on the canvas. Apelles returned the next day, and the subtlety of the line he drew then made Protogenes despair. That work was for a long time admired by connoisseurs, who contemplated it with as much pleasure as if, instead of some barely visible lines, it had contained representations of gods and goddess.


As told by Calvino

The king commissioned Chuang-tzu, an expert draftsman, to draw a crab
Chuang-tzu replied that he needed 5 years, a country house, and 12 servants.

After 5 long years, the drawing was still not begun. Chuang tzu bargained for another 5 years.
"I need another five years," said Chuang-tzu. The king granted them.

At the close of these 10 long years, Chuang-Tzu took up his brush and, in a split second, he drew a crab, the most perfect crab ever seen.

Source: Calvino's Memos for the New Millenium; Picture by Ch'i Pai-shih (1863-1)

(Ref.: Buro Angla)

About Guillaume Apollinaire, others

About Guillaume Apollinaire (Rome, Aug 26, 1880- Paris, Nov. 9, 1918) was a French poet, playwright, and art critic born in Italy to a Polish mother.

About Gaius Plinius Secundus (23 AD – August 25, 79), better known as PLINY, the Elder was a Roman author, naturalist and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman empire and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian.

More about Appelles of Kos (4th Centrury BC ) was a renowned painter of ancient Greece. Pliny , the Elder, rated him superior to preceding and subsequent artists. He dated Apelles to the 112th Olympiad (332-329 BC), possibly because he had produced a portrait of Alexander the Great.

More about Protogenes: Greek painter, contemporary and rival of Apelles, noted for the care and time he devoted to each of his paintings. He lived most of his life at Rhodes. Little else is known of him, and none of his paintings survives. The “Ialysus” and the “Resting Satyr” were among the most renowned of his works.

The “Ialysus” was a painting of the hero-guardian of a Rhodian town of the same name. According to ancient accounts, Protogenes spent from 7 to 10 years on this painting.

About Calvino and Chuang Tzu

About Calvino (15 October, 1923- 19 September, 1985 was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors Trilog, the Cosmicomica Collection of Short Stories and the novels Invisible Cities and If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler.

More about Chuang Tzu. Name: Chuang Tzu; Birth Date: c. 369 B.C.; Death Date: c. 286 B.C.; Place of Birth: China, Place of Death: China, Nationality: Chinese, Gender: Male, Occupations: philosopher, writer The Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu (ca. 369-ca. 286 BC), also known as Chuang Chou, was the most brilliant of the early Taoists and the greatest prose writer of his time

"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it", Anonymous


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