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The Lictors Bringing Brutus the Bodies of His Sons

Jacques Louis David French

Not on view

Although small in scale, this oil sketch is perhaps David’s darkest vision of the subject of the ancient Roman consul Brutus, who condemned his sons to death for betraying the newly founded republic. Contrary to his usual practice of moving the most graphic violence offstage as he progressed toward his final composition, the artist here inserts the gruesome detail of the lictors (Roman officers) holding aloft pikes bearing the heads of the two sons. It was an idea he would jettison in the final work.

The Lictors Bringing Brutus the Bodies of His Sons, Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels), Oil over pen and black ink, squared in black chalk, on paper laid down on canvas

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