Roman Soldiers Defending a City Plagued by Famine

Louis Fabritius Dubourg Dutch

Not on view

This large, signed and dated drawing by a founding member of the Amsterdam Academy depicts adults, children, and dogs struggling for food and drink, while various men haul large bags and vessels through the crowd. Armored soldiers try to prevent other figures from entering through the open city gate, beyond which a camp is visible. At right are two priestly figures, one with hands clasped in prayer, the other looking upward. The classical dress suggests an episode drawn from ancient or biblical history. Several elements bring to mind the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410 CE. According to some accounts, Roman civilians, in a desperate effort to find food, opened the Salarian Gate, thus enabling the Visigoths to enter the city and pillage it.

The woman and child on the ground in the foreground are quotations of Raphael’s Massacre of the Innocents, which was widely known through a print by Marcantonio Raimondi (see22.67.21) and Poussin’s Rape of the Sabine Women, which was in a Dutch collection in 1722 (see 46.160).

(JSS, 8/23/2018)

Roman Soldiers Defending a City Plagued by Famine, Louis Fabritius Dubourg (Dutch, Amsterdam 1693–1775 Amsterdam), Pen and black ink, gray and brown wash; framing line in pen and black ink, possibly by the artist

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