Vespasian hearing from one of his generals of the taking of Jerusalem by TitusArtist(s)Lawrence Alma-TademaObject Creation Date1866Medium & Supportoil on panelDimensions
34 1/16 in. x 27 13/16 in. x 2 13/16 in. ( 86.5 cm x 70.6 cm x 7.1 cm )Credit LineMuseum purchase made possible by the W. Hawkins Ferry FundLabel copy
March 28 2009
In this depiction of a moment in Roman history, the Emperor Vespasian learns that his son, Titus, has conquered and sacked the city of Jerusalem. Vespasian, seated on a chair and facing into the light, receives the report from his general. Though this dispatch from Jerusalem was of momentous national importance—the victory was so important that the Arch of Titus, still standing today in Rome, was built to commemorate it—the scene, which unfolds in a domestic setting of rich but subdued color, is quiet and almost contemplative.
The architecture and artifacts of ancient Rome were of enduring interest to Alma-Tadema; he had friendships with several prominent scholars of the ancient world and traveled to Pompeii in 1863 to explore its ruins. Alma-Tadema kept drawings and photographs of recently excavated antiquities available for use in his paintings of Greek and Roman life. His interest in the details of friezes, furniture, lamps, and other objects imparted to his works a great sense of period authenticity, and they were highly esteemed for this quality.Subject matter
The architecture and artifacts of ancient Rome were of enduring interest to Alma-Tadema and the artist kept for his use both reference photographs and his own drawings of chairs, friezes, and other details of daily life that he could see in the Naples Museum and elsewhere. These details were employed to convey a strong sense of period authenticity, in this case the report delivered to Vespasian from his son, Titus, describing the sack of the city of Jerusalem. The rich coloration, thoughtful pose of the emperor, and strong light on the seated figure all contribute to the quiet and meditative mood of the work.Physical Description
The Roman emperor Vespasian sits in an interior receiving a document from a standing figure to the right of the composition. The emperor is dressed in a white robe and sits on a red chair to the left of the composition. The interior is largely dark, with the exception of the emperor, whose figure is brightly lit.
The painting is in the original frame, which is constructed to resemble a Roman Temple with base, entablature, and fluted ionic pilasters.Primary Object Classification Painting Primary Object TypegenreCollection AreaWesternRights
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interior spaces (spaces by location)