RUBENS, Peter Paul
(b. 1577, Siegen, d. 1640, Antwerpen)

Cimon and Pero (Roman Charity)

c. 1630
Oil on canvas, 155 x 190 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Of the examples of 'filial piety' in the literature of antiquity, that of Cimon and Pero was one of the ones that appealed most to artists of the 16th to 18th centuries in Italy and the Netherlands. Valerius Maximus tells of a certain Cimon, an aged man, who was in prison awaiting execution and who was therefore given no food. The jailer allowed Cimon's daughter Pero to visit him. She nourished him by giving him her breast. The scene is a prison cell; the white-haired prisoner, manacled, reclines in the lap of a young woman who is suckling him. A jailer peers through a barred window.

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