(b. 1723, Lanark, d. 1798, Roma)

The Oath of Brutus

Oil on canvas, 213 x 264 cm
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven

Probably this is one of the paintings, showing unswerving allegiance to one's country or ideals, which influenced Jacques-Louis David when painting The Oath of the Horatii. (The painting was available as an engraving.)

In the Brutus story, the oath was sworn as a promise of individual revenge against a corrupt monarchy, and it was somewhat inconsistent and redundant to have noble and virtuous Romans swear an oath to affirm a virtue that was beyond question - patriotism. But the motif of the oath allowed David to present a unified and memorable distillation of a highly involved story.