The Suicide of Lucretia
Oil on canvas
45 1/4 x 57 1/2 inches (115 x 146 cm)
According to a number of Roman sources, Lucretia was the wife of the Roman consul Lucius Tarquinius Colatinus, a cousin of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the king of Rome. Although versions of the story vary, all agree that the king's son, Sextus Tarquinius, entered Lucretia's bedroom at night by stealth and raped her. Demanding revenge, Lucretia sent for her father and husband and then committed suicide by stabbing herself. Here her father, husband, and their friend Lucius Junius Brutus are shown discovering her body.
Outraged by these events, Lucretia's family led a revolt against the king, driving him from Rome, and establishing the Roman Republic. This story, with its dramatic anti-monarchical and republican thrust, was a favorite subject for artists during the French Revolution.
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