Diogenes, seated before his barrel, reading from a book, a plucked hen standing behind him at right

Artist: Ugo da Carpi (Italian, Carpi ca. 1480–1532 Bologna)

Artist: After Parmigianino (Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola) (Italian, Parma 1503–1540 Casalmaggiore)

Date: 1520–30

Medium: Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from four blocks in grey-green ink

Dimensions: Image: 18 11/16 x 13 5/8 in. (47.5 x 34.6 cm)
Mount: 28 x 22 in. (71.1 x 55.9 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1917

Accession Number: 17.50.1


Ugo da Carpi was the first Italian artist to experiment with a multiblock woodcut technique known as chiaroscuro. The method requires a different block for each shade; the blocks are inked and printed one over the other to create the composition. In this remarkable example of the medium, the artist creates form through areas of tone. Ugo seems to have drawn inspiration from the wash drawings of Parmigianino, with whom he may have collaborated. The print shows the Greek philosopher Diogenes immersed in his studies. The chicken at right is a reference to his mocking response to Plato’s definition of man as a featherless biped: Diogenes is said to have presented a plucked chicken, saying, “Here is Plato’s man!”