The Death of Harmonia

Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 632

This painting’s subject taken from ancient history—a second-century BCE tale of dynastic succession, murder, and morally motivated self-sacrifice—was nearly as obscure to Pierre’s audiences as it is to us today. The guidebook to the Salon of 1751, where Pierre showed this painting, offered an explanation of what was depicted, evidence of the drawbacks of complex history subjects. Nonetheless, it is easy to appreciate Pierre’s mastery of Baroque dramatic action through poses, facial expressions, and drapery. His decision to exhibit the painting a decade after it was executed was probably prompted by the publication of Charles Nicolas Cochin’s engraving of it in 1751.

The Death of Harmonia, Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre (French, Paris 1714–1789 Paris), Oil on canvas

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