Black with two shades of green

Marcus Curtius, c. 1540

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According to legend, an oracle predicted that ancient Rome would fall unless the city sacrificed its dearest possession to the gods. Suddenly a gaping hole opened in the ground of the Forum, threatening to swallow up even the greatest of its monuments. Frightened, the city’s leaders could not think of what to offer. Finally, Marcus Curtius, a young soldier, cried out that nothing was more valuable to Rome than its brave warriors. With that he spurred his horse, which leapt into the chasm. The earth closed over the courageous young rider, and the city was saved.

This is a chiaroscuro (light and dark) woodcut, an early form of color printing meant to re-create the effect of drawings made with washes of diluted ink.

Marcus Curtius
Artist Life
(Venice), 1510–after 1566
Accession Number
Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), Lugt 2364, London; Otto Seitz (1846-1912), Lugt 2280, Munich; [Kennedy Galleries, New York]
Catalogue Raisonne
B.XII.151.19 (iii/iii)
Curator Approved

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Black with two shades of green