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Work: 85 x 56,5 cm
Frame: 93 x 63 cm
Croesus was the king of Lydia, who reigned from 585 BC until his defeat by the Persian king Cyrus the Great in 547 or 546 BC. Croesus was renowned for his wealth. According to Herodotus, Croesus encountered the Greek sage Solon and showed him his enormous wealth. Croesus, secure in his own wealth and happiness, asked Solon who the happiest man in the world was, and was disappointed by Solon's response that three had been happier than Croesus: Tellus, who died fighting for his country, and the brothers Kleobis and Biton who died peacefully in their sleep after their mother prayed for their perfect happiness because they had demonstrated filial piety by drawing her to a festival in an oxcart themselves. Solon goes on to explain that Croesus cannot be the happiest man because the fickleness of fortune means that the happiness of a man's life cannot be judged until after his death. Sure enough, Croesus' hubristic happiness was reversed by the tragic deaths of his accidentally killed son and, according to Ctesias, his wife's suicide at the fall of Sardis, not to mention his defeat at the hands of the Persians. (link)
- A very similar painting (Southern Netherlands, ca. 1650) is part of the collection of the Alte Pinakothek, Munich , inv./cat.no 10682. (link)