Apelles, the most celebrated of Greek painters, born, according to Pliny and Ovid, in the island of Cos; according to Suidas, at Colophon. Strabo and Lucian call him an Ephe-sian, but he appears to have been such only by adoption, and to have studied at Ephesus. His instructors were Ephorus the Ephesian, Pam-philus of Amphipolis, Melanthus, and, according to Athenaeus, Arcesilaus. The masterpiece of Apelles was his Venus Anadyomene, or "Venus Rising from the Sea," the model for which is believed to have been either Phryne or Campaspe, one of the royal mistresses whom Alexander the Great resigned to the painter.

This painting was ultimately placed by Augustus in the temple of Julius Caesar, where it was gradually destroyed by age. It is said that Alexander, whom, according to some. Apelles accompanied in his expedition to Asia, would allow no one but Apelles to paint his portrait; and one of his paintings representing Alexander holding a thunderbolt was sold for a sum equal to about $200,000. He was accustomed, when he had completed a piece, to expose it to the view of passers-by, and to hide himself behind it in order to hear the remarks of the spectators. On one of these occasions a shoemaker censured the painter for having given one of the slippers of a figure a less number of ties than it ought to have had. The next day the shoemaker, emboldened by the success of his previous criticism, began to find fault with a leg, when Apelles indignantly put forth his head and desired him to confine his criticism to the slipper. Hence arose the expression the sutor ultra crepidam, "Let not the cobbler go beyond his last."