Angelica Kauffman

Virgil reading the ''Aeneid'' to Augustus and Octavia

Virgil reading the ''Aeneid'' to Augustus and Octavia
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Angelica Kauffman
History Painting, Painting, Oil on canvas, 123x159 cm
Origin: Germany, 1788

The subject is taken from a legend ofAncient Rome, described by the 5th-century Latin writer Macrobius, and the painting depicts the moment at which Octavia, sister of the Emperor Augustus, loses consciousness as she listens to Virgil reading his verses and recalls the early death of her son Marcellus. The artist creates a balanced composition typical of Neoclassicism, the central group of three female figures picked out against the light sky. Visible through the arch are the Capitol and the Temple of Jupiter. The poses of the figures recall some theatrical scene, in which the heroes express their emotions through striking gestures. The generalisation of Neoclassicism is here combined with a certain sentimentality and the dulled colours create a soft colour scheme. Angelica Kauffmann was an extremely fashionable painter and received many commissions from high-ranking clients throughout Europe, including Russia, where her work became known thanks to the efforts of Prince Nikolay Yusupov, an art lover and connoisseur who literally showered her with commissions. The Hermitage has 11 works by the artist.

Personage: Virgil
Style: Neo-Classicism
Source of entry: Lazenki Palace, Warsaw, 1902
Exibition: German Art: 15th - 18th centuries

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