Mola has a vast oeuvre, which includes portraits of diverse ancient literary figures. Although their identities vary from portrait to portrait, the sitters were all portrayed as elderly bearded figures deep in thought wearing a wreath of laurel on their heads. This painting has traditionally been said to represent Socrates, but Francesco Petrucci presented in the artist's monograph that it could be Homer.1 Regardless of its subject, Mola's talent as an artist is evident here in the fine detail of the beard and the pronounced features of the face. It has been suggested that this work was conceived as a preliminary for a larger composition, which might explain the proportions of the head.2
1. F. Petrucci, Pier Francesco Mola (1612-1666): Materia e colore nella pittura del ‘600, Rome 2012, p. 390, cat. no. B118.
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