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Frans I Vriendt, called Frans Floris (1516-1570)
Frans I Vriendt, called Frans Floris (1516-1570)

The Continence of Scipio

Details
Frans I Vriendt, called Frans Floris (1516-1570)
The Continence of Scipio
oil on panel
75.3 x 188.1 cm

Lot Essay

The present unpublished lot is an addition to the oeuvre of the artist, as assembled by C. van de Velde, in his monograph on the artist of 1975. Its style and composition are to be compared with The Judgement of Salomon, in the Muses Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Antwerp (Van der Velde, op.cit., I, p.155, no.4; II, fig.3) which Van der Velde dates to circa 1547, shortly after the artist's return from Italy. The subject was popular in the Renaissance and was taken as an exemplar of generosity and chastity. It shows the Roman general Scipio after his capture of New Carthage, restoring a beautiful captive to her betrothed Alucias. The unusual make-up of the support out of vertically aligned planks suggest that it may have been intended as part of the panelling of a room, perhaps as an overdoor.
The subject is taken from Livy, XXVI:50 and shows the moment where Scipio Africanus grants his prize of war in the guise of a girl to her fiance. The subject was regarded as example of good judgement and was therefore often displayed in courtrooms to admonish judges to give righteous verdicts. Indeed the unusual use of planks joined vertically in the present picture could indicate that the picture was once inserted in a room panelling possibly in a courtroom as part of a series of scenes of good judgement.
Like the Judgement of Salomon, now in Antwerp, was once displayed in the City Hall, where the Court of Judgement had their reunions.
As pointed by Van der Velde, op. cit., p.155, the pose and frieze-like composition of the figures might have been inspired by Roman sarcophagi, after which Floris made numerous drawings during his stay in Italy. See for this the series of pen and ink drawings in the Kupferstichkabinet, Bazel (Van der Velde, op. cit., nos.T9 and T10, figs.114 and 115) The subdued colour scheme may have resulted from the influence of Lambert Lombard.
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