Detail from the 'Philosopher's Capital'

Plaster Cast from the Doge's Palace, Venice, 1880s.

This cast comes from a fourteenth-century capital of the Ducal Palace, dedicated to the philosophers. The capital includes likenesses of Aristotle, Solomon, Priscian (grammarian), Cicero, Pythagorus, Euclid, Tubal Caon (musician), and Ptolemy.

Ruskin on the 'Philosopher's Capital'

Ruskin referred to this capital in Letter 77 (May 1877) of Fors Clavigera:

'By this day's post I send you photographs of two fourteenth-century capitals of the Ducal Palace here. The first is that representing the Virtues; the second, that representing the Sages whose power has been greatest over men.

Largitas (Generosity) leads the Virtues; Solomon, the Sages; but Solomon's head has been broken off by recent republican movements in Venice; and his teaching superseded by that of the public press -- as "Indi-catore general" -- you see the inscription in beautiful modern bill type, pasted on the pillar.

Above sits Priscian the Grammarian; and next to him, Aristotle the Logician: whom that in contemplating you may learn the right and calm use of reason, I have to-day given orders to pack, with extreme care, a cast of him, which has been the best ornament of my room here for some weeks; and when you have examined him well, you shall other casts of other sages.' (Works, 29, p. 116).

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