Lucrece drawing, circa 1765-circa 1819

The auction label on the back of this undated drawing labels it Lucrece, yet the iconography, particularly the way the female figure is handing the knife to the male, implies that it is likely a depiction of Paetus and Arria. In ancient Rome,  Emperor Claudius ordered Caecina Paetus to commit s...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Benjamin West, 1730-1813 (Creator)
Collection:Benjamin West Drawings (#3149)
Alternate Date:Circa 1765-circa 1819
Dimensions:40.1 x 56.0 cm
Call Number:3149
Box Number:Box 4
Folder Number:Folder 2
Format: Electronic
Subjects and Genres:
Copyright:Please contact Historical Society of Pennsylvania Rights and Reproductions (rnr@hsp.org)
Online Access:https://digitallibrary.hsp.org/index.php/Detail/objects/12976
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Summary: The auction label on the back of this undated drawing labels it Lucrece, yet the iconography, particularly the way the female figure is handing the knife to the male, implies that it is likely a depiction of Paetus and Arria. In ancient Rome,  Emperor Claudius ordered Caecina Paetus to commit suicide. Unable to do so, his wife stabbed herself first to give her husband courage. The drawing depicts Arria in the process of handing the knife to Paetus. Light sepia washes give the drawing value and highlight the figures' faces.
This drawing is one of a small collection of drawings created by American-born artist Benjamin West (1738-1820) during his career in London (circa 1765-circa 1819).