Over the years, painters have found their sources of inspiration in religious, historical facts, in the observation of reality or even in other disciplines; On this occasion, the work that we analyze here shows the relationship between art and philosophy, but this time, representing a philosopher and not a philosophical teaching. In reality, there are very few paintings that deal with the same theme that Castiglione chose in his work Diogenes Searching for Man or at least, that they did it at the same time as the Genoese artist since little later, other painters such as Rubens or Jocopo Bassano followed the same trend as Castiglione.
Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (1609 – 1664) was a Baroque artist who cultivated both painting and engraving. In his first steps in the artistic world he trained with some second-rate local painters with whom he would basically practice landscape painting and shortly after, he met Poussin who taught him to appreciate the classicist painting of Greece and Rome as well as to study the great Renaissance figures. Castiglione worked for some of the main religious orders of his time but also for small private collectors who commissioned more intimate works from him. Starting in the 1940s, the artist began to harvest some important works in engravings following the guidelines set by Rembrandt and that the Italian painter knew thanks to thedissemination of their prints.
The work we are analyzing here and which, as already mentioned, is en titled Diogenes Searching for Man, dates from the last period of Castiglionewhen his painting was already fully formed. In it, the Genoese artist represents the atypical philosopher of the cynical current Diogenes who, far from what was prototypical in his time, lived far from any type of material goods, plunged into the deepest poverty to the point that he lived in a jar that always accompanied.
The artist has represented an episode in which the philosopher was incessantly looking for something in the city and when one of his neighbors asked him what he was looking for, he answered that it was a man.Thus, in Castiglione's work the philosopher can be seen with a lantern in his hand while he leans out among a group of animals, beggars, objects of all kinds and even some classical sculptures. The experts have wanted to see in the representation of Castiglione an allusion to the Vanitas or the passage of time.