Having defeated the Gauls in 49 BC, Julius Caesar is depicted here on his return to Rome at the banks of the Rubicon River. Any military crossings of the River had been forbidden by the Roman Republic as a security measure during the on-going civil war. Paying no heed to the ruling, Caesar and his armies marched through the river, defeated Pompei at Pharsalus and established the Empire in Rome with himself as its head.
Executed in 1900, the original plaster model of Gérôme's Caesar franchissant le Rubicon, resides in the collection of the Musée de Vésoul.
Another example of this model, edited by Siot-Decauville, sold Christie's London, 29 October 1998, lot 57 (£ 8,050).