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The Departure of Marcus Atilius Regulus for Carthage

Jacques Louis David French

Not on view

For a royal commission, David made a series of studies based on the story of the ancient Roman general Marcus Atilius Regulus. He would eventually opt for a different subject of his own choosing, a latitude he apparently felt free to exercise.

Regulus is known for having been captured by the Carthaginians in the First Punic War and released to go to Rome and negotiate a peace. Afterward, he rejected the entreaties of his family to remain and chose instead to honor the terms of his parole and return to Carthage, where he was tortured and killed.

While the composition did not progress beyond paper, its theme of conflict between patriotic duty and familial attachments resonates with David’s other history subjects of this period.

The Departure of Marcus Atilius Regulus for Carthage, Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels), Pen and black ink, brush and gray and brown wash, heightened with white, over traces of black chalk, on blue laid paper

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