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Andromache Mourning the Death of Hector

Jacques Louis David French

Not on view

For his reception piece—the final step in gaining full membership at the Académie Royale—David chose a well-known subject from Greek mythology, Andromache and her son crying over the death of her husband. In classical literature, lamentation is presented as the female counterpart to male valor. Considered particularly tragic was the story of Andromache. Her husband, Hector, the prince of Troy, was slain in battle by Achilles, and her young son, Astyanax, would soon be thrown from the city’s ramparts to thwart any future acts of revenge or claims to the throne.

David worked out the composition through an extended series of studies, eventually paring it down to the essential triad of mother, son, and dead father. It contains an echo of the artist’s youth as an only child who lost his father at a young age.

Andromache Mourning the Death of Hector, Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels), Pen and black ink, brush and gray wash, over black chalk, on two joined pieces of paper

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