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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst


Maker(s):Panini, Giovanni Paolo (or studio)
Culture:Italian (1691 - 1765)
Title:The Death Leap of Marcus Curtius
Date Made:ca. 1730-40
Materials:oil on canvas
Place Made:Italy
Measurements:stretcher: 40 x 50 in.; 101.6 x 127 cm
Accession Number:  SC 1951.139
Credit Line:Gift of Jean McLean Morron, class of 1901

Currently on view

outdoor; architecture; people; animal; military/war

Label Text:
Giovanni Paolo Panini is known for his imaginative compositions of classical Roman architecture. His historical scenes are often set in idealized landscapes with ancient ruins, as seen here.

This painting tells the legendary story from 362 BCE when a great chasm opened in the Roman Forum. It could only be closed by sacrificing Rome’s greatest treasure, a conundrum that confused most Romans but was understood by the young soldier Marcus Curtius to be the bravery of its people. Marcus Curtius, here shown in full armor on his rearing horse, is about to sacrifice himself by leaping into the abyss.

Panini repeated this composition a number of times, probably after the first version now housed in the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, England, ca. 1730). The SCMA painting most closely related to one in the Louvre. The same subject, differently treated, can be seen in another painting in the collection by the nineteenth-century French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme.

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