Tullia, daughter of the ancient Roman king Servius Tullius, orders her chariot to run over the body of her murdered father.
After persuading her husband, Tarquin the Proud, to overthrow her father so that they might become king and queen, she ignored his advice to avoid the crowd surrounding her father's body in the streets of Rome. Though even her horses shy away from the deed she is about to perform, Tullia seems determined to finish the job of completely destroying her father.
Focusing on the horror of the scene--taken from the Roman historian Livy--Giuseppe Cades crammed the composition full of figures and movement. The horses rear, manes streaming out, and Tullia and her groom gesture at the body of Servius, their capes billowing in the wind. The use of white heightening, which illuminates the flowing mane and muscular body of the central horse and the murdered king's body, amplifies the dramatic effect of the darkened scene.
Scholars believe that Cades made the drawing to be sold as an independent work of art rather than in preparation for a painting. Other artists made such highly finished drawings for the art market in the 1700s in Italy.