Johann Geyer, Colombus and the Egg

Johann Geyer: Colombus and the Egg (1847) Oil on canvas
Colombus and the Egg
Oil on canvas
Credit Line
Bequest of Charles Knox Smith
56 ½" x 72"

Mary Shelly, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and other authors make reference to a once well-known story about Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and the egg. Upon returning from his expedition to the New World, Columbus was invited to a banquet given by the Grand Cardinal of Spain, Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza. Some noblemen who were present suggested that Columbus’s arrival in the New World was no great accomplishment. In response, Columbus asked that eggs be brought to the table and wagered that no one could make an egg stand on its end. None were able to do so. Columbus then tapped the end of an egg against the table, breaking it slightly such that it could stand on its own. The moral of the story is that a seemingly impossible task can be simple once it is understood. Geyer portrays a confident Columbus surrounded by nobles, the egg upright on the table. Figures around the table react in astonishment.           

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