Re-Imaginings Index  |  Richard Horvath Artworks

Re-imagining 15

Re-Imagining 15:
Jacques-Louis David, The Lictors bring to Brutus the bodies of His Sons

2011
Inkjet on watercolour paper
85 x 64 cms

Brutus, the corpses of his sons, and the lictors are all absent from this re-imagining of the 1789 Jacques-Louis David painting, instead, the focus is Brutus' grieving wife and daughters. Brutus chose the punishment of execution for his sons' crime of treason against the Roman republic, and hence his sense of civic duty over-riding his love of family was regarded as exemplary behaviour by David, a mouthpiece for the new French Republic. Omitting essential details of the narrative was partly decided for technical reasons -- insufficient computer memory -- but mainly because the lovely compositional arrangement of the trio of figures was of greatest interest to me in this bleak event, and not the brutal ethical dilemma.
The decision to replace David's imagined Roman furniture with the closest stylistic counterpart I could find, such as Art Deco club chairs, was straightforward, but the backdrop of the sheet suspended from the pillars was technically problematic without the appropriate software. Photographing a bed sheet suspended from my back verandah and using the image as a texture was a solution, although the sharp eyed viewer will notice shadow anomalies in the left corner.

Jacques-Louis David, The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons: Wikimedia
The Lictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons: Annenberg Learner