The present picture is a considerably reduced version of a composition by Perrin in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon, that measures 325 x 325 cm. The original by this follower of Jacques Louis David was exhibited at the Salon of 1789 (see S. Bellinger, Un peintre sous la révolution. Jean Charles-Niçaise Perrin (1754-1831), Montargis, 1989, pp. 48-50).
The story of the Death of Seneca is told by Tacitus in the Annales. The emperor Nero had ordered the famous Roman philiosopher to kill himself by opening his veins. Perrin illustrates the dramatic moment when Seneca's wife, who is about to follow the example of her husband, faints and is caught by the soldiers.