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Arria and Paetus

Artist
François-André Vincent, French, 1746–1816
Date
1784
Material
Oil on canvas
Made in
Paris, Île-de-France, France, Europe
Classification
Paintings
Current Location
On View, Gallery 202
Dimensions
39 3/4 x 48 in. (101 x 121.9 cm)
framed: 48 5/8 x 56 7/8 x 4 3/4 in. (123.5 x 144.5 x 12.1 cm)
Credit Line
Funds given by Mr. and Mrs. John Peters MacCarthy, Director's Discretionary Fund, funds given by Christian B. Peper, and gift of Mr. Horace Morison by exchange
Rights
Public Domain
Object Number
27:2008
NOTES
Arria (left) is shown visiting her husband Paetus who had joined an uprising against the emperor Claudius and was later imprisoned. She reminds him that suicide is the honorable option for a Roman prisoner. Arria will eventually demonstrate by plunging the knife into her own breast, saying, “See, Paetus, it does not hurt.” The painting has focused on the moment just before Arria inflicts the wound. This obscure story was the sort of subject used by artists like François-André Vincent to demonstrate their mastery of elements of classicism, evident in their use of profile poses, stage-like settings, and carefully defined forms.
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