The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons

The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons by Jacques Louis David

The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons by Jacques Louis David was produced in 1789 and is considered to be one of the famous artworks of Renaissance Art movement. The work can be viewed now at The Louvre, Paris


Medium: Oil Painting 

Subject(s): death, honour, love


The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons is an oil painting produced in 1789 by French painter Jacques Louis David.

The full title of this work according to many historians was Brutus returning home after having sentenced his sons for plotting a tarquinian restoration and conspiring against roman freedom, the Lictors burnt their bodies to be buried.

Lucius Junius Brutus who was a roman leader was shown in the canvas grieving for his dead son. Brutus sons had tried to overthrow the government of Rome and restore the monarchy. The father ordered their death to maintain the republic of Rome. Brutus was the heroic defender who chose the republic instead of his own family. On the right side of the picture, Mother holds her two daughters and the servant was shown on the far right in anguish. Brutus on the left was sitting alone on a klismos brooding but knowing that he had no other choice and what he did was best for his country. The whole picture was a republican symbol and had added meaning of patriotism during these times in France.

Brutus shown tense with crossed feet in the picture and the use of light and dark color was to draw a distinction between Brutus and his wife. Brutus does not even look back as his headless sons are brought into the room. Jacques-Louis David painted this picture in the Neo-Classical manner. In 1789, it was hotly controversial to bring such a subject which reveals how deeply the artist was committed to new ideas and enlightenment principals.

David wanted to exhibit his picture in the Salon but before that the French Revolution had begun. The newspapers in France reported that the government had banned the showing of the famous painting The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons’, the people were outraged on the government and several royals were forced to give up. The painting was then hung in the exhibition and protected by art students.

The work can be viewed at Louvre in Paris.




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