(b. 1477, Vercelli, d. 1549, Siena)

The Death of Lucretia

Oil on wood, 71 x 61 cm
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest

Lucretia, the virtuous wife of Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, committed suicide, as she could not endure the shame of being raped by Sextus Tarquinius, as Livy related. This deed secured the legendary Roman lady a place in the series of exemplary females that in European painting, particularly in court circles, were depicted as examples of virtue.

The painting possibly is identical with the picture which according to Vasari was painted in 1513 for Pope Leo X on the occasion of his election. The new Pope prior to his elevation, was Giovanni de Medici, the son of Lorenzo. As compensation Leo X awarded a knighthood to the painter.

The painting shows overt, rather than subtle, eroticism.