Of his many portraits of the great
conqueror four are specifically mentioned by our
authorities. One of these represented the king as
holding a thunderbolt, i.e., in the guise of Zeus – a
fine piece of flattery. For this picture, which was
placed in the
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, he is
reported, though not on very good authority, to have
received twenty talents in gold coin. It is impossible
to make exact comparisons between ancient and modern
prices, but the sum named would perhaps be in purchasing
power as large as any modern painter ever received for a
work of similar size.
It has been mentioned above that Apelles made a number
of portraits of King Philip. He had also many sitters
among the generals and associates of Alexander; and he
left at least one picture of himself. His portraits were
famous for their truth of likeness, as we should expect
of a great painter in this age.
Nicias, an Athenian painter and a
contemporary of Apelles, is reported to have been
offered by Ptolemy, the ruler of Egypt, sixty
talents for a picture and to have refused the offer.
An allegorical painting by Apelles
of Slander and Her Crew is interesting as an example of
a class of works to which Lysippus's statue of
Opportunity belonged. This picture contained ten
figures, whereas most of his others of which we have any
description contained only one figure each.
His most famous work was an Aphrodite, originally placed
in the Temple of Asclepius on the island of Cos. The
goddess was represented, according to the Greek myth of
her birth, as rising from the sea, the upper part of her
person being alone distinctly visible. The picture, from
all that we can learn of it, seems to have been imbued
with the same spirit of refinement and grace as
Praxiteles's statue of Aphrodite in the neighboring city
of Cnidus. The Coans, after cherishing it for three
hundred years, were forced to surrender it to the
emperor Augustus for a price of a hundred talents, and
it was removed to the Temple of Julius Caesar in Rome.
By the time of Nero it had become so much injured that
it had to be replaced by a copy.