The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Wounding of Pyrrhus

Object Details

Title:

The Wounding of Pyrrhus

Artist/Maker:

Boucicaut Master or workshop (French, active about 1390 - 1430)

Culture:

French

Place:

Paris, France (Place Created)

Date:

about 1413–1415

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink

Object Number:

Ms. 63 (96.MR.17), fol. 131v

Dimensions:

Leaf: 42 × 29.6 cm (16 9/16 × 11 5/8 in.)

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Object Description

Pyrrhus, king of the ancient Greek territory of Epirus, collapses with a shoulder wound after a fierce battle against the Romans. In 281 B.C. he sailed to the aid of Tarentum, a Greek colony in southern Italy at war with Rome. As the text explains, the battlefield was located near a castle, which the artist depicted as a massive fortress. After Pyrrhus fled the skirmish due to his injury, his troops suffered from confusion and sustained great losses. Pyrrhus finally defeated the enemy but only at great cost to his army, leading to the expression "Pyrrhic victory" for a victory offset by staggering losses.