The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons (1789) by Jacques-Louis David

The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons - Jacques-Louis David - 1789

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons
ArtistJacques-Louis David
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions323 x 422 cm
Art MovementNeoclassicism
Current LocationLouvre, Paris, France

About The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons

The artwork titled “The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons” is a significant piece by the artist Jacques-Louis David, created in the year 1789. This oil on canvas painting exemplifies the Neoclassical art movement and falls under the genre of history painting. It has an impressive dimension of 323 by 422 cm and is displayed at the Louvre in Paris, France.

This artwork captures a poignant moment in Roman history, reflecting on the theme of civic virtue and the tension between personal and public duty. The central figure is Lucius Junius Brutus, the founder of the Roman Republic, who sits stoically on the left with his gaze turned away from the scene unfolding to his right. His sons had conspired against the republic, and as punishment, they were executed. The lictors, Roman officers, are seen bringing the bodies of his sons back to Brutus, draped in white shrouds.

The painting is rich in classical references and symbolism, with the setting showcasing austere Roman architecture and the figures adorned in classical attire. The juxtaposition of Brutus’ stoic expression against the palpable grief of the other figures, particularly the women who are depicted as in the throes of despair, underscores the gravity of Brutus’s sacrifice of familial bonds for the sake of the state. David’s use of light and shadow, coupled with the strong horizontal and vertical lines, draws the viewer’s attention to the moral and emotional focal points of the composition, making it a powerful evocation of patriotic self-sacrifice.

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