The Death of Camilla

Jacques Louis David French

Not on view

As was his practice, David began his famous painting The Oath of the Horatii (Musée du Louvre, Paris), by researching the story—through texts, images, and theater—and considering carefully which moment he wanted to depict.

In the ancient war that pitted Romans against Albans, three brothers each from the clans of the Horatii and the Curiatii were designated to fight a proxy battle. When Horatius returned victorious, he was infuriated by his sister’s anguish at hearing of the death of her fiancé and raised his sword to slay her. Their father would later defend his act of murder.

This drawing and several others show that David experimented with this episode before changing course and choosing, as he often did, psychological depth over graphic violence.

The Death of Camilla, Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels), Black chalk, brush and gray wash

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