Mucius Scaevola Thrusting His Right Hand into the Flames before Lars Porsenna

Object Details

Title:

Mucius Scaevola Thrusting His Right Hand into the Flames before Lars Porsenna

Artist/Maker(s):

Master from Konstanz (Christoph Bockstorffer) (Swiss, about 148? - 1553)

or Matthäus Gutrecht the Younger (German, died 1534, active 1506)

Culture:

Swiss

Date:

about 1530 - 1540

Medium:

Pen and black ink, gray and two shades of yellow wash and red chalk

Dimensions:

43.7 x 32.7 cm (17 3/16 x 12 7/8 in.)

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The ancient Roman hero Mucius Scaevola thrusts his hand into the open flames and holds it there as the man he tried to assassinate stands over him, observing along with two guards. The artist showed the dramatic climax of an ancient tale: the Etruscan ruler Lars Porsenna condemned Scaevola to be burned at the stake for attempting to murder him while he besieged the city of Rome. The Roman's bravery so impressed Porsenna, however, that he set Scaevola free.

The design is crammed with fanciful details, all intended as a model for a stained-glass window, one of a series on Roman heroes and heroines. The background shows the towers of Rome, which resembles a walled Renaissance town more than an ancient, classical city, surrounded by medieval siege engines. A heavily ornamented arch supported by a pair of robust columns frames the scene. Profiles of a king and an emperor decorate the coffered arch, while other vaguely classical motifs fill the arch, the sides of the columns, and the frieze along the base. The shield at the bottom remains empty except for the Roman numeral xxiii, perhaps signifying the twenty-third window in the series. The rest of the space could have been filled with further inscriptions.

Exhibitions
16th Century Northern European Drawings (February 18 to May 2, 1992)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), February 18 to May 2, 1992
Central European Drawings of the 16th and 17th Centuries (March 2 to May 9, 1993)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), March 2 to May 9, 1993
16th Century Ornamental Drawings (June 1 to August 14, 1994)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), June 1 to August 14, 1994
German and Swiss Drawings from the Permanent Collection (June 6 to August 20, 2000)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 6 to August 20, 2000
Made for Manufacture: Drawings for Sculpture and the Decorative Arts (February 6 to May 20, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 6 to May 20, 2007
Made for Manufacture: Drawings for Sculpture and the Decorative Arts (March 31 to July 5, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 31 to July 5, 2009
Renaissance Drawings from Germany and Switzerland, 1470-1600 (March 27 to June 17, 2012)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 27 to June 17, 2012