The Rape of Lucretia (Tarquin and Lucretia) is a painting completed by Titian in 1568-71. The artwork depicts the infamous story of the Etruscan prince, Sextus Tarquinius, raping the Roman noblewoman Lucretia, which led to her suicide. Titian portrayed the scene with Lucretia resisting the assault, but eventually being overpowered by Tarquin. This deadly act ultimately contributed to the end of the Roman monarchy and the establishment of a republic.
Titian created two other versions of the same subject later in his life, and Lucretia’s suicide was a more commonly depicted scene in art. The painting is now part of the Kunsthistorisches Museum’s collection in Vienna. Another painting by Titian, Tarquin and Lucretia, also portrays the same event, but with Tarquin depicted as more aggressive and evil. This painting was completed in 1571 for Philip II of Spain and is considered to be a fully finished work.
The Rape of Lucretia is a famous story from Roman history, which can be found in Livy’s history of Rome and Ovid’s “Fasti.” The theme of this painting is an example of how art has been used as a medium to showcase historical events and traditions. The painting’s realistic depiction of violence and sexual assault is an insightful representation of art as a means to communicate the despair and pain that come with sexual violence. Other artists, like Artemisia Gentileschi, have also depicted this story in their artworks.