Pietro Testa’s Alexander the Great saved from the River Cydnus

Pietro Testa’s Alexander the Great Saved from the River Cydnus

Stefan Albl

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Pietro Testa, Alexander the Great in the River Cydnus, New York, Metropolitan Museum.

Stefan Albl's project focused on preparing a book on one of Pietro Testa’s last paintings before committing suicide. This painting was inspired by Quintus Curtius Rufus History of Alexander the Great and depicts a rarely represented episode in the life of the great commander: in the middle of a hot summer day, Alexander, covered in dust and sweat, decided to swim in the river Cydnus. Unaware of the fact that the water was cold, Alexander’s limbs went rigid and all the warmth of life was drained from his body. This study examined Testa’s reading of Curtius Rufus and his interpretation in painting. Classical art-historical analytical methods were combined with more philosophical and medical issues.