Mucius Scaevola in the presence of Lars Porsenna
circa 1600 - post 1650
In the dazzling comet's tail of painters called the Caravaggisti - the admirers of Caravaggio who kept alive his flame for more than a century - Matthias Stomer stands out for his considered temperament and cool execution. Almost an academic of the movement, though never an imitative hack, Stomer built a body of work on the basis of subjects like this. Antiquity in general and Roman history in particular were his primary source material, reflecting a classicism which had little to do with Caravaggio's own almost exclusively biblical interests. Stomer's 'Mucius Scaevola in the presence of Lars Porsenna' could be seen to anticipate the high moral tone, and consequent sober rendition, found in the works of later neoclassical figures such as David. This painting, after all, posits a test of faith by fire within a resolutely imperial context - precisely David's territory. There is a poorly preserved variant in Messina, datable to this Dutch-born painter's Sicilian period.
AGNSW Handbook, 1999.
Muscius Scaevola in the Presence of Lars Porsena
oil on canvas
152.6 x 205.7 cm stretcher; 167.5 x 220.0 x 7.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Not on display
Shown in 1 exhibition
Prince Branciforte di Mazzarino, 17th century, Caltanissetta/Sicily/Italy
Ettore Viancini, pre 24 Apr 1968, Venice/Italy, Purchased by Agnew's from Ettore Viancini, 24 April 1968. This was possibly a joint holding, Viancini may also have been a dealer. Agnew's stock number J. 6067
Agnew's, London, 24 Apr 1968-24 Apr 1970, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from Agnew's 1970
Referenced in 11 publications
Vincenzo Abbate, Pittori del Seicento a Palazzo Abatellis, 'Quadrerie e collezionisti palermitani del Seicento', pg.13-57, Milan, 1990, 31, 33 (illus.). fig.15
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 8 (colour illus.).
Edgar Peters Bowron and Mary G. Morton, Masterworks of European Painting in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 'Matthias Stomer: The Judgement of Solomon', pg.66-69, New Jersey, 2000, 68 (illus.). AGNSW work illustrated in reference to 'The Judgement of Solomon' in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Patricia Crawford, History and legend in some selected paintings at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1980, 9 (illus.).
Elvira D'Amico (Curator), La pittura nel nisseno, dal XVI al XVIII secolo, Sicily, 2001, 158 (colour illus.), 159 (colour illus.). cat.no. 22, illustration on page 158 is a detail
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 28 (colour illus.).
Clem Lloyd and Peter Sekuless, Australia's national collections, North Ryde, 1980, 253 (illus.).
Norbert Middlekoop, The golden age of Dutch art: seventeenth century paintings from the Rijksmuseum and Australian collections, 'Art and Reality', pg.9-25, Perth, 1997, 12 (illus.). fig.8
J.L. Schrader, Museum of Fine Arts Houston Bulletin, 'New acquisitions, a Caravaggesque judgement of Solomon', pg.54-55, Houston, Sep 1970, 55. AGNSW work mentioned in reference to 'The Judgement of Solomon' in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Peter Tomory and Robert Gaston, European Paintings before 1800 in Australian and New Zealand public collections, Sydney, 1989, 132 (illus.). cat.no. 405
Editor Unknown (Editor), The Burlington Magazine, 'Stomer brought u, p-, Apr 1977.