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This painting shows an episode from the Spanish conquest of Peru in 1632. The Inca king, Atalhuellpa, is questioning Christian beliefs in front of the chaplain of the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro. A struggle ensued during which the king was captured and many Incas were slaughtered.

Briggs was one of the few consistently successful history painters of his generation. This picture was exhibited at the British Institution in 1827. Briggs had shown an earlier version of the subject at the Royal Academy the previous year, when it was highly praised, and bought by a friend of Turner's, William Wells of Redleaf.

September 2004