The Continence of Scipio


Richard Earlom after Anthony van Dyck.  “The Continence of Scipio.”  London: John Boydell, 1766.  17 1/4 x 27.  Engraving by J. Miller.  Narrow but complete borders within plate marks.  Strong impression.  Very good condition.  Ref: Rosenblum, Transformations in Late Eighteenth Century Art, 57; Fowble, To Please Every Taste, 53.


In the eighteenth century many images of virtuous figures from history were popular for their moral examples.  This fine image is just such a one.  Scipio Africanus (237-183 B.C.E.), a Roman General of the Punic Wars is exalted,

“Here the 24-year-old Roman virtuously returns one of his prisoners–a noble and beautiful Carthaginian maiden–to her parents and fiancé, a benevolent act which is further magnified by the addition of money to her dowry of golden treasures, brought to Scipio for her ransom.”