Death of Lucretia, c. 1500-1503


Bequest of Herschel V. Jonesexpand_more  P.68.234

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Artists were riveted by the story of Lucretia after a statue assumed to be her was unearthed in Rome in 1500. In Roman historian Livy's account, Lucretia had proved herself so virtuous that Tarquinius, her husband's friend, gave himself the challenge of defiling her. He arrived at her house pretending to be a guest, then, in Lucretia's words, "took his pleasure of me." Unable to live with her shame, Lucretia killed herself, but not before getting her family and friends to promise revenge on Tarquinius. Israhel van Meckenem gives us not only her theatrical suicide but also scenes of the infamous rape and her confession.

Death of Lucretia
Artist Life
c. 1445–1503
Accession Number
Jos. Grünling, L.1463; Sir John Hippisley; Paul Davidson, L.654 (sale II, 1920, No. 1314); F. Bernstein (see Lugt 9826 & Lehr); Colnaghi; Harlow, 1925
Catalogue Raisonne
Holl. 516; B.168; Lehrs 516; NGA 231; L.IX.406.516
Curator Approved

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