Tomb of Isocrates, Athenian Orator

Turning to another ancient source—Plutarch’s Lives of the Ten Orators—Lequeu transcribed a description of the rhetorician Isocrates’s tomb and rendered a fantastic vision of its appearance. While the original tomb was surmounted by a column bearing a mermaid, symbolizing Isocrates’s eloquence, a mistranslation of the original Greek led Lequeu to include a sheep as the base.

Jean-Jacques Lequeu (1757–1826)
Tomb of Isocrates, Athenian Orator, 1789
Pen and black ink, brown and gray wash
Bibliothèque nationale de France, Departement des Estampes et de la photographie