WOUTERS, Frans
(b. 1612, Lier, d. 1659, Antwerpen)

Cloelia and Her Companions Escaping from the Etruscans

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Oil on panel, 56 x 78 cm
Private collection

Cloelia was one of the ten daughters, who, with ten sons, of patrician Roman families, were given as hostages to Lars Porsena, the Etruscan king of Clusium, as a token of good faith following the conclusion of a treaty between Rome and the Etruscans. Cloelia escaped to Rome by re-crossing the Tiber on horseback, persuading her female companions to swim after her. The girls were sent back by the Romans but Porsena, in admiration of Cloelia's courage, presented her with a horse and restored her freedom together with that of her companions.

This theme was common in Italian and northern Baroque painting.