Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Quintus Fabius Maximus Before the Senate of Carthage

Quintus Fabius Maximus Before the Senate of Carthage
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
History Painting, Painting, Oil on canvas, 387x224 cm
Origin: Italy, Between 1728 and 1730

Dionisio Dolfin, Patriarch of Aquileia, commissioned a series of ten paintings on themes from Roman history for his Venetian palace, known as the Ca' Dolfin.

In this work, the artist chose the scene in which Rome declared war on Carthage . Rome sent an embassy to the Senate at Carthage under the leadership of Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus , known as Cunctator . The embassy was protesting the seizure by Carthage of a town allied to Rome. Since the senators refused to answer the protest, Quintus Fabius asked them what they would choose, war or peace? The senators chose war.

An excerpt from the Epitome of Roman history by Florus is to be seen at the top of the painting. It reads "When the Carthaginians refused to answer, the leader of the embassy Fabius said: 'What is the delay? Here I bring you war and peace. Which do you choose?' In answer to their cry of 'War!' he replied: 'Thus you shall have war', shook out before the whole gathering a fold of his toga, and let it go, not without a shudder, as if indeed he carried war in that fold."

Tiepolo sets the main hero with his back to the viewer, allowing us only to guess at the expression on his face. This device was used repeatedly in the series of paintings for the Ca' Dolfin and creates an impression of heightened emotional tension.

Style: Baroque
Source of entry: First Branch of the State Hermitage Museum, 1934
School: Venetian
Theme: History

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