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Alexander at the Tomb of Cyrus the Great

A work made of oil on canvas.
Public Domain

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes
French, 1750-1819

About this artwork

This landscape and its companion piece, Mount Athos Carved as a Monument to Alexander the Great, reflect the late-18th-century enthusiasm for the antique, as well as the cult of sensibility that made the tomb in a landscape a favored subject for art in this period. Here Alexander, who overthrew the Persian Empire, arrives at the tomb of its founder, Cyrus the Great (590/580–c. 529 B.C.), only to find that it has been desecrated. In choosing the subjects of this pair of moralizing landscapes, Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes was doubtless suggesting the transitory nature of empire and of life itself.


On View, Gallery 218


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Pierre Henri de Valenciennes


Alexander at the Tomb of Cyrus the Great


France (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


42 × 91.1 cm (16 9/16 × 35 7/8 in.)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by Mrs. Harold T. Martin

Reference Number


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