Zeuxis and Parrhasius, 5th Century BC: One-up-manship

There was disagreement in fifth century Greece over who was the best painter of the day.  It came down to Zeuxis and Parrhasius. A contest was proposed to settle the matter.

Zeuxis proceeded to paint a wall with a  still life of some grapes that proved so realistic that birds were seen to come down and peck at them.

Tough act to follow and Parrhasius was willing to concede victory.  For the record, he reluctantly asked his rival to pull back the curtain on his own poor efforts.  Zeuxis began to do so, only to find that the curtain was itself just painted on the wall.

He immediately acknowledged Parrhasius the better painter.


4 thoughts on “Zeuxis and Parrhasius, 5th Century BC: One-up-manship

    • I’m slow today, it took me all morning before I got the joke.

      And if I were less slow, I could probably come up with a crack about Nero fiddling, but just now, words fail

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