COXCIE, Michiel van
(b. 1499, Mechelen, d. 1592, Mechelen)

The Revenge of Tomyris

c. 1620
Oil on wood, 185 x 175 cm
Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna

Tomyris was the queen of nomadic people Massagetae in central Asia in ancient times. According to Herodotus (1:214), Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian empire, met his death in battle against her. The painting depicts Tomyris submerging the severed head of Cyrus, King of Persia, in a basin of human blood, having repulsed his invasion of her lands in a violent battle in 530 B.C.

This large panel is a free copy of a composition by the Master of Flémalle. The original painting is lost, it is known only from the copy by Coxcie. The present painting is a copy of Coxcie's composition, painted around 1620.

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