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Tapestries in the Royal Collection

Tapestries for court spectacle and the furnishing of royal residences


The meeting between Alexander the Great and Diogenes


RCIN 27903

'Ask of me what thou wilt and thou shalt have it', Alexander the Great is supposed to have said to the renowned Cynic philosopher, Diogenes. The reply came: 'Stand out of my light'. The philsopher's dismissive gesture can be seen in this tapestry as he waves the king away from the mouth of the barrel where he lives. Diogenes had renounced all possessions, and the inscription on this panel reads: 'Alexander, when he saw in that urn its great inhabitant, felt how much happier was he who desired nothing, than one who demanded the whole world for himself'. The panel is one of seven made at Mortlake, five of which were purchased for Charles II (1630–1685) in 1683. In 1882 they were sent to Holyrood, where they remain today.  See also RCINs 27949, 27950, 27951, and 28899.

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