Artist: Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch, Leiden 1606–1669 Amsterdam)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 56 1/2 x 53 3/4 in. (143.5 x 136.5 cm)
Credit Line: Purchase, special contributions and funds given or bequeathed by friends of the Museum, 1961
Accession Number: 61.198
Aristotle (384–322 B.C.) rests his hand reflectively on a bust of Homer, the blind epic poet of the Iliad and the Odyssey. A medallion representing Alexander the Great, whom Aristotle tutored, hangs from the heavy gold chain. The philosopher contemplates material rewards as opposed to spiritual values, with the play of light and shadow on his features suggesting the motions of his mind. Painted for the great Sicilian collector Antonio Ruffo, the picture also refers to Aristotle's comparison of touch and sight as a means of acquiring knowledge. For further discussion of this work, see metmuseum.org/collections.