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Mucius Scaevola in the presence of Lars Porsenna

early 1640s


Matthias Stomer

Netherlands, Italy

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.


Other Title

Muscius Scaevola in the Presence of Lars Porsena


early 1640s

Media category


Materials used

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.


Purchased 1970


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Matthias Stomer

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history


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.). 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.). 405

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Burlington Magazine, 'Stomer brought u, p-, Apr 1977.