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The Clemency of Scipio

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The painting, coming from a private British collection, was purchased in the 1950s by the famous marchand-amateur Francesco Pospisil, who had been living in the magnificent Palazzo Sagredo on the Grand Canal in Venice since 1936 and had his collection there.
The painting here presented could have been part of a pendant, as in the case of two paintings with a similar subject coming from Palazzo Savorgnan di Brazzà in Udine and then in the collection Cella in Broni, portraying precisely The Triumph of Scipio and The Clemency of Scipio.
Publius Cornelius Scipio, general and statesman of the Roman Republic, went down into history for having defeated the Carthaginian commander Hannibal during the battle of Zama in 202 BC, ending in this way the Second Punic War and giving Rome the chance to control all the Mediterranean Sea. He was a brave commander and a fearless strategist, but he always stood out for his large magnanimity towards prisoners, conquering also the goodwill and the esteem of the subject people.  
The episode here represented is told by Polybius and, according to the tradition, would have happened after the capture of the town of Cartagena, one of the most important Carthaginian bases in Spain.
Roman soldiers brought to Scipio a beautiful girl they had found during the sack of the town. But Scipio, thanking them, said that, being a commander, he could not accept such a gift and returned the girl back to her father. Then, having known that the girl was the fiancé of a young Celtiberian chief, named Allucius, he called him, gave him the girl and handed over to him as wedding gift the rich tributes he had received from the girl’s parents as a sign of gratitude. 
The painting focuses on Scipio’s meeting with the young Allucius, on his knees before him. Scipio is portrayed seated under a camp canopy enriched by a precious curtaining. Soldiers with flags, banners and armors form two lateral wings, giving the illusion of a lively military field taking part discretely in the scene.
The soldiers on the foreground are all intent on discussing two by two and it seems as if no-one is looking directly at the centre of the scene, separating in this way the sacredness of Scipio’s gesture from the confusion of the field.
The young girl is standing before him and bows her head, looking at her young lover that with his left hand indicates the gifts Scipio is giving to him.  
The composition is dilated in horizontal, a different solution with respect to the painting with the same subject of one of the four canvas with episodes of Roman history discovered by Sinding-Larsen in 1959 in the so-called winter garden of the Bogstad manor, in the North of Oslo, that may be dated around the half of the 1750s and is considered as one of the best works by the artist.
The same solution is used in another work belonging to the Cella Collection in Broni, but with remarkable differences and a simplified paint application so that it can be considered as a second version. 
As for the chronology, it should be dated at the half of the 1740s, before the cycle of Bogdstad, which has a less thick and a more frayed paint. 

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