The Wallace Collection

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The Rape of Lucretia
  • Felice Ficherelli (1603 - 1660)
  • The Rape of Lucretia
  • Italy
  • late 1630s
  • Painting
  • Oil on tinned copper
  • Image size: 24.5 x 29.9 cm
    Frame size: 42 x 47.5 x 8 cm
  • P643
  • East Drawing Room
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The tragic story of Lucretia, recounted by Livy, was a popular subject with baroque artists. Lucretia was the wife of the Roman nobleman Collatinus during the 6th century BC. While sleeping, Sextus Tarquinius, son of the tyrannical King Tarquinius Superbus, came into her chamber and threatened to disgrace and kill her if she did not lie with him. The next day, Lucretia committed suicide before her father and husband in order to reclaim her honour. The incident hastened the revolt which led to the overthrow of monarchical tyranny and the establishment of the Roman Republic.

    Ficherelli favoured violent scenes infused with an aura of morbid sensuality. In this work he represented the dramatic moment of confrontation between Lucretia and Sextus Tarquinius, the latter raising his sword while his servant observes in the background. Fichrelli invests the scene with an atmosphere of claustrophobic intimacy. The painting is a close, reduced replica of a much larger canvas by Ficherelli in the Accademia di San Luca, Rome. There are several known versions of the composition, dateable from the late 1630s.