The Suicide of Sophonisba

Bartholomaeus Spranger

Bartholomaeus Spranger - The Suicide of Sophonisba
The main heroine Sophonisba, the daughter of the Carthaginian army leader, is represented as semi-nude and decorated with elegant jewels. In the second Punic war she became victim of the intrigues of the warring countries and was captured by the Roman army. Unable to help his wife, her husband ordered her to drink a goblet of poison, to die in honour as a Carthaginian princess. The tragical story of Sophonisba had been described by many ancient men of letters and historians, and it became attractive again among artists and dramatists of the 16th and 17th centuries. This work was painted in the final stage of Spranger’s career, characterized by greater dynamism in the movement of figures, and more expressive depiction of the narrative. The dramatic accent is even enhanced by the darkened background with male figures emerging from it in half-shadows, while all light is centred on the bare breast of the heroine.
measurements: height 125,5 cm
width 97 cm
material: canvas
technique: oil
inventory number: O 1593
gallery collection: Collection of Old Masters

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