The Cumaean Sibyl before Tarquin the Proud

Niccolò dell' Abate Italian

Not on view

This lively narrative scene is related to a lost fresco cycle for the Palazzo Torfanini in Bologna, which depicted episodes from the life of the last king of Rome, Tarquin the Proud. The scene represents the critical moment when King Tarquin decides to purchase the remaining three volumes of the prophetic books offered him by the Cumaean Sibyl. Six of these volumes are already burning in the foreground, cast onto the flames when the king refused to pay the high price demanded by the sibyl. Although Niccolò left for Fontainebleau in 1552, the decorative works that he carried out in Bologna had a lasting influence on artists of that city.

The Cumaean Sibyl before Tarquin the Proud, Niccolò dell' Abate (Italian, Modena 1509–1571 Fontainebleau (?)), Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, highlighted with white gouache, on traces of leadpoint or black chalk, on light brown paper

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