The Triumph of Aemilius Paulus

Carle (Antoine Charles Horace) Vernet French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 632

Vernet began this enormous painting with its more than one hundred figures and dozen horses in 1787, and he presented it as his reception piece to the French Royal Academy in 1789. Exhibited at the Salons of 1789 and 1791, the painting’s ambition and advanced classicism proved a critical success. Vernet’s unusual format perfectly suits his subject: a procession that allegedly lasted three days, led by Roman general Aemilius Paulus who defeated King Perseus of Macedon in 168 BCE. The general rides in triumph on the gold cart followed by prisoners, including Perseus with his family. The temple of Jupiter Capitolinus with its hundred steps dominates the learned catalogue of ancient buildings comprising the background.

The Triumph of Aemilius Paulus, Carle (Antoine Charles Horace) Vernet (French, Bordeaux 1758–1836 Paris), Oil on canvas

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