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Image of Chilon

Harmen Jansz. Muller (aka Jan Harmensz Muller)
Dutch, 1571–1628



Object Type: Print
18 3/4 in. x 14 7/16 in. (47.63 cm x 36.67 cm)
Medium and Support: Engraving on paper
Accession Number: 1999.0004.0002

Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Jr., in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Sr.

Chilon was a 6th-century BCE Spartan legislator and philosopher considered one of the Seven Sages of Greece. He was instrumental in the development of the Peloponnesian League and is credited with numerous dictates, including “do not speak ill of the dead,” “honor old age,” “do not laugh at misfortune,” “don’t desire the impossible,” “restrain anger,” and “obey the law.” However, Muller chose to inscribe the oval frame of his portrait with “nosce teipsum,” know thyself,” another admonition of the ancient orator.

This engraving, and its pendant Harpocrates (1999.4.1) depict somewhat obscure Greek figures. The designs were apparently two of only twenty created by Jan Muller himself, rather than reproductive engravings of the compositions of other artists. Like much of Muller’s work, both were published by Muller’s father Harmen Jansz. Muller (Dutch, about 1540–1617) in Amsterdam.

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