22 February 2009

Lucretia: The 16th Century

Chapter IV in Saylor's book deals with the end of Rome's regal period and the beginnings of the Republic. The part of this story that has most inspired artists is the story of the rape of Lucretia by Sextus Tarquinius, the nephew of Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh and last king of Rome, and her subsequent suicide. Scenes from the story can be seen in almost strip cartoon fashion in the two pictures below. The upper picture was painted in 1500 by Botticelli, and is now in Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The lower picture was painted in 1528 by Breu the Elder and is now in Munich's Alte Pinakothek but not on their website.

This 1518 picture of Lucreitia's Suicide by Durer is also now in Munich's Alte Pinakothek, but not on their website.

Lorenzo Lotto's 1530-32 picture shown below is actually called a Portrait of a Woman Inspired by Lucretia. It is now in London's National Gallery.

Cranach the Elder seems to have been very fond of the subject of Lucretia. According to Houston's Museum of Fine Arts, his workshop produced dozens of pictures on this theme. One can be seen below, with others in Vienna's Liechtenstein Museum (3rd picture down), Nizhny Novgorod's Art Museum (scroll down and click on middle thumbnail in the bottom row), and Helsinki's Finnish National Gallery.

Titian painted two pictures of Lucretia. The earlier one, painted in 1515, shows Lucretia with her husband trying to restrain her from committing suicide, and is now in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum, while the later one (shown below), painted in 1571 near the end of Titian's life, shows the rape. The picture is in Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum, whose website has a detailed discussion of the painting.

Veronese painted Lucretia's suicide in 1580. The picture (shown below) is also in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum (scroll down and click on leftmost thumbnail in the bottom row).

Let's close this look at Lucretia in the 16th century with the 1592 publication of Shakespeare's poem, The Rape of Lucrece. (all illustrations are from wiki commons and are in the public domain)

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