Dionysius the Areopagite Converting the Pagan Philosophers

Object Details


Dionysius the Areopagite Converting the Pagan Philosophers


Antoine Caron (French, 1521 - 1599)






Oil on panel


92.7 × 72.1 cm (36 1/2 × 28 3/8 in.)

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In 1571 a dramatic solar eclipse occurred: this event probably served as the subject of this painting by Antoine Caron. He painted it at the court of Catherine de Medici, queen of France, who, like many rulers of the time, was extremely superstitious and fascinated by astronomical phenomena, often seeing eclipses and natural disasters as foreboding omens.

In the painting, astronomers gather in a town square beneath the shadowed sun. A bearded Greek philosopher in the foreground looks at the sky and points to an armillary sphere on the ground. Next to him, the central figure, Dionysius the Areopagite, holds a book, points to the sky, and looks at the celestial globe carried by the figure running up the steps at the right. Dionysius preaches the Christian message of salvation to pagan Greek philosophers. A putto, seated on the steps between a square and straight edge, writes on a tablet, recording the event.

In the background on the right, a statue representing Urania, the muse of Astronomy, stands on a twisted column. Near the statue, figures run and point towards the heavens while seeking cover. Above, an ominous red sun glows and lightning streaks the stormy, cloud-filled sky.

- 1947

J.H. Price (London, England) [sold, Price sale, Christie's, London, January 17, 1947, lot 121, to Anthony Frederick Blunt.]

1947 - 1962

Sir Anthony Frederick Blunt, British, 1907 - 1983 (London, England), by gift to John Gaskin, 1962.

1962 - 1985

John Gaskin (London, England), sold through Adrian Ward-Jackson Ltd. (London, England) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1985.

Loan Exhibition of French Painting of the XVIIth Century (June 20 to July 31, 1947) (Cat. 8)
  • Wildenstein & Co. (London), June 20 to July 31, 1947
Exhibition of Landscape in French Art (December 10, 1949 to March 5, 1950) (Cat. 9)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), December 10, 1949 to March 5, 1950
Fontainebleau e la Maniera Italiana (July 26 to October 12, 1952) (Cat. 52)
  • Museo di Palazzo Reale (Napili)
De triomf van het manierisme: de Europese stijl van Michelangelo tot El Greco (July 1 to October 16, 1955) (Cat. 37)
  • Rijksmuseum, (Amsterdam), July 1 to October 16, 1955
Between Renaissance and Baroque: European Art 1520-1600 (March 10 to April 6, 1965) (Cat. 59)
  • Manchester Art Gallery, (Manchester), March 10 to April 6, 1965
L'Ecole de Fontainebleau (October 17, 1972 to January 15, 1973) (Cat. 33)
  • Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, (Paris), October 17, 1972 to January 15, 1973