Tarquin & Lucretia 1578-80

Tarquin & Lucretia by Tintoretto 1578-80

The painting of Tarquin & Lucretia is based on Roman history.  Lucretia was a virtuous matron who was raped by Sextus Tarquinius, who was the son of the king of Rome.  This hideous act caused the monarchy to be overthrown and the people established a republic around 510 b.c.  Sadly, Lucretia committed suicide, to save her family from dishonor.  (Courtesy of wall text next to the painting.)

The painting of Tarquin & Lucretia shows a struggle taking place between a man and a woman.  They are struggling upon a bed with silk pink and black bedsheets in a tangle.  Lucretia, the woman, is naked except for a white sheer cloth wrapping around parts of her body.  The sheer cloth wraps around her left leg, covering her vagina, and continues wrapping around her waist and below her breasts. Although this covers parts of her every part of her shows through.  Her pearls are in the midst of breaking and falling to the floor.  Lucretia is trying to break free from Tarquin’s grip.  She stands on her right leg, while using her left leg to push off from the bed and her left arm is pushing his head away.  At Lucretia’s feet is a a dagger, which represents Tarquin’s threats and her suicide.  The sheets are strewn about the bed showing this intense struggle between Tarquin & Lucretia.  Tarquin’s right leg is bent on the bed and his left leg is stretched out in the motion of pulling Lucretia back onto the bed.  His arms are also extended, pulling Lucretia by her waist and garments.  In the left foreground of the painting is a bronze statue that has toppled to the ground.  This statue was a post holding the now fallen canopy up along with three other bronze statues surrounding the bed.  Next to the statue is a white pillow in the action of falling to the floor.  This painting uses intense colors and the use of space in this painting is striking.  There isn’t any negative space.  The motion taking place is intense and painted beautifully.

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