From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Butades of Sicyon, sometimes mistakenly called Dibutades, was the first ancient Greek modeller in clay. The period at which he flourished is unknown, but has been put at about 600 BC. The story is that his daughter, Kora (also called Callirhoe), smitten with love for a youth at Corinth where they lived, drew upon the wall the outline of his shadow, and that upon this outline her father modelled a face of the youth in clay, and baked the model along with the clay tiles which it was his trade to make. This model was preserved in Corinth until Lucius Mummius sacked that town. This incident led Butades to ornament the ends of roof-tiles with human faces, a practice which is attested by numerous existing examples.
He is also said to have invented a mixture of clay and ruddle (red ochre), or to have introduced the use of a special kind of red clay.
The Butades myth in the arts
The following chronological list is based on Robert Rosenblum's essay "The Origin of Painting: A Problem in the Iconography of Romantic Classicism" and on the further expansion by George Levitine. One may also consult Andor Pigler's Barockthemen.
- Charles Le Brun: [Unknown title] (Drawing, before 1676).
- Charles-Nicolas Cochin: [Unknown title] (1769).
- Bartolomé Esteban Murillo: El Cuadro de las Sombras (1660).
- Joachim von Sandrart: Teutsche Academie, Dibutade (1675).
- Johann Eleazar Zeissig: L'origine de la peinture, ou Les portraits à la mode (1770).
- Alexander Runciman (1736-1785): The Origin of Painting (1771).
- David Allan: The Origin of Painting (1773).
- Joseph Wright of Derby: The Origin of Painting (1784).
- Jean-Baptiste Regnault: Diputade (1785).
- Louis-Philippe Mouchy (1734-1801): Diputade (Münze, 1785).
- Joseph-Benoît Suvée: The Invention of the Art of Drawing (1791).
- Pierre Bouillo: Diputade (ca. 1800).
- Charles-Antoine Fleury: The Origin of Painting (1808).
- Louis Ducis: The Origin of Painting (1808).
- Jeanne-Elisabeth Chaudet (1767-1832): Dibutade Coming to Visit Her Lover's Portrait (1810).
- William Mulready (1786-1863): The Origin of a Painter (1826).
- Auguste Jean Baptiste Vinchon (1789-1855) & Nicolas Louis François Gosse: L'origine du dessin (Relief, 1827).
- Anne Louis Girodet-Trioson: The Origin of Drawing (1829).
- Honoré Daumier (1808-1879): Les nuits de Pénélope (Litogr., 1841-1843).
- The Invention of the Art of Drawing, 1791, Joseph-Benoît Suvée, Groeningemuseum, Bruges
- The Origin of Painting: Dibutades Tracing the Portrait of a Shepherd, 1785 by Jean-Baptiste Regnault
- The first painting resulted from tracing the outline of a shadow cast by a human figure on a wall