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The Continence of Scipio

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.

Date:

c. 1706

Artist:

Sebastiano Ricci
Italian, 1659-1734

About this artwork

This painting depicts a scene from the life of Scipio Africanus, the Roman general who defeated Hannibal in the Battle of Zama (in present-day Tunisia) in 202 BCE. Here Scipio demonstrates his leadership by acting with restraint (“continence”) in refusing to hold a woman as a captive of war. According to the story on which the painting is based, the woman’s fiancé, shown kneeling beside her, was a powerful prince who agreed to a military alliance with Scipio in gratitude for his lenience. The theatrical setting and costumes—the invented military helmets, anachronistically dressed characters, fanciful architecture, and gravity-defying drapery, for example— suggest that the artist’s aims were allegorical rather than historical, intended above all to illustrate for viewers the virtues of compassionate diplomacy.

Status

Currently Off View

Department

Painting and Sculpture of Europe

Artist

Sebastiano Ricci

Title

The Continence of Scipio

Origin

Italy

Date

1701–1711

Medium

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

140 × 182 cm (55 × 71 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Preston O. Morton Memorial Fund

Reference Number

1970.106

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https://api.artic.edu/api/v1/artworks/33249/manifest.json

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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