Giorgio Ghisi, The Calumny of Apelles (after Luca Penni), 1560, engraving, Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 2012.8
This allegory of injustice is based on a written description of a lost painting by the ancient Greek artist Apelles (active about 4th century BC). An enthroned judge with large ears is flanked by Suspicion and blindfolded Ignorance. He extends a hand to Calumny (Slander), who, helped by Envy, drags a young man by the hair into court. This youth lifts his hands in supplication, protesting his innocence to Truth and Time, who descend on a cloud to reveal Calumny's lies and vindicate the wrongly accused. Deceit stands behind Calumny with a large net, while Repentance casts an apologetic glance toward Truth from beside the window.
This subject was popular with Renaissance artists for its moral content and also because of its applicability to debates over the value of art and worth of individual artists. According to a legend propagated by Lucian (AD 120-after 180), the genius of Apelles invited the jealousy of one of his rivals, who slanderously accused him of instigating a local rebellion. In danger of prosecution, a friend spoke on Apelles's behalf, stating that the artist was not connected with the revolt. Although the rival was subsequently punished, an embittered Apelles allegedly created this allegorical scene as retribution for the unfair treatment.
Lauren Maceross (September 2013)