The Berger Collection

Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807)
Papirius Praetextatus Entreated by His Mother to Disclose the Secrets of the Deliberations of the Roman Senate
Oil on canvas
24 1/16 in. (62.75 cm) diameter

Angelica Kauffman was a leading Neoclassical painter and one of only two female founding members of London’s Royal Academy of Arts. Her subject here is an obscure ancient Roman narrative in which a young boy, Papirius, having been granted special entry to the senate, resists his mother’s entreaties to reveal details of the council’s secret proceedings. As a reward for his loyalty to the senate, he is allowed unfettered access to their meetings. Such moralizing messages were a popular aspect of Neoclassical pictures. The subject’s erudition would have appealed to Kauffman’s patrons, as would the picture’s classical setting and the figures’ attire and pose.


Sir Cosimo Antrobus, Bt.; by descent; Hall & Knight, London


Literature: Manners and Williamson, Angelica Kauffmann, RA, 1924, p. 177; W. W. Roworth, Angelina Kauffmann: A Continental Artist in Georgian England, 1992, p. 182

Exhibited: New Gallery, London, 1900, no. 170

Engraved: Burke, published February 1, 1780, by W. W. Ryland

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