Pompeo Batoni

Continence of Scipio

Continence of Scipio
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Author: Pompeo Batoni
History Painting, Painting, Oil on canvas, 226.5x297.5 cm
Origin: Italy, Circa 1771/72

From the Renaissance onwards The Continence of Scipio was an extremely popular subject in European art. During the Second Punic War , the Roman military commander Publius Cornelius Scipio took the city of New Carthage in Spain. The Romans gained vast booty and the historian Livy tells how Scipio could have taken as his concubine the most beautiful and noble girl of the city, captured along with many others, but did not make use of his right, returning her to her beloved . Batoni's canvas forms a pair with Thetis Takes Achilles from the Centaur Chiron, likewise commissioned by Catherine the Great and also in the Hermitage. The two works are similar both in composition and in colouring. Scipio wears a deep pink cloak - this is the colour of the victorious hero - as he returns the girl to her kneeling beloved, while the white dress of the prisoner symbolizes her innocence. There are various marvellously painted vases in the foreground: Batoni was a jeweller in his youth and he loved to make small, detailed, elegant still lifes through the introduction of extraneous items.

Personage: Scipio
Source of entry: Gatchina Palace Museum, 1926
School: Roman
Theme: History

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