Joseph Mallord William Turner Ancient Rome; Agrippina Landing with the Ashes of Germanicus exhibited 1839

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Artwork details

Title
Ancient Rome; Agrippina Landing with the Ashes of Germanicus
Date Exhibited 1839
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 914 x 1219 mm
frame: 1230 x 1530 x 140 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
N00523
On display at Tate Britain
Exhibition: Late Turner

Display caption

Germanicus, the adopted son of the Roman Emperor, Tiberius, was the father of Caligula, and the grandfather of Nero. He died at Antioch, victim of either poison or magic. His devoted widow, Agrippina, brought his ashes back to Rome in an urn.

This story had long been popular with history painters as an ‘exemplum virtutis’ (virtuous example) of a dutiful wife. Turner’s verses for this painting show that he saw the tragic episode as heralding the decline of Imperial Rome. He reconstructs the city in elaborate detail, though in fact Agrippina had landed at Brundisium (Brindisi) rather than Rome.

September 2004

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