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Frieze in the Antique Style: Death of a Hero

Jacques Louis David French

Not on view

In his last months in Italy, David drew a frieze depicting the death and funeral procession of an ancient warrior. The shallow composition evokes Roman low-relief sculpture. Originally more than seven feet long over eight sheets of paper, the drawing was cut in two toward the end of the eighteenth century.

The segment here presents a violent vignette of a classical warrior raising his sword to slay his fallen adversary. The human pair is flanked by immortal onlookers. On the left, Athena and Hercules watch the battle with steely expressions. On the right are the three Fates: Clotho, who spins the thread of life, appears agitated as Atropos prepares to sever it. Meanwhile, Lachesis watches indolently.

Frieze in the Antique Style: Death of a Hero, Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels), Pen and black ink, brush and gray wash, black chalk, heightened with white gouache, with framing lines in pen and brown ink, on three joined sheets of faded blue paper and a fourth strip added at right

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