The Capture of Carthage

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 600

Carthage, located along the African coast of the Mediterranean, was one of the ancient world’s largest and most powerful capitals until its destruction by the Romans in 146 BCE. As suggested here, the carnage was unspeakable, and the city burned for seventeen days. Through daring foreshortening—note the fallen figure and the man tipping his standard away from us—Tiepolo gave his composition a tense dynamism that fits the subject. For viewers in the 1700s, this event probably alluded to more recent battles between the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire. Members of the Delfin family, who commissioned this painting as one in a series showing ancient Roman victories, played an important part in those campaigns.

The Capture of Carthage, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, Venice 1696–1770 Madrid), Oil on canvas

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