Democritus and Heraclitus
Giuseppe Maria Crespi was the leader of the Bolognese school between the end of the 17th century and the middle of the 18th century. A painter of deep inventiveness, he appreciated literary and allegorical subjects. The representations of the two characters symbolise the two complementary poles of philosophy: Democritus laughs at the course of mankind, Heraclitus is saddened by it. From a historical point of view, the philosophers cannot have met, as they lived almost a century apart. Nevertheless this subject was much appreciated in literature and painting. Crespi reinforces the expression of these characters by making their limbs appear to come out of the canvas in a sort of homage to the dark Caravaggesque painting fashionable in the previous century.