TESTA, Pietro
(b. 1611, Lucca, d. 1650, Roma)

Achilles Dragging the Body of Hector

Etching, 270 x 425 mm
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge

Pietro Testa's preferred medium was etching, which was more suitable than painting to express his fantastic mythological and symbolic conceptions. His etchings have an abstruse emblematic quality and poetical charm only matched by his Genoese contemporary Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione.

Pietro Testa produced hundreds of drawings after antique sculpture for Cassiano dal Pozzo's Paper Museum, later drawing on this experience for his many etched scenes from antiquity. This one shows a climactic moment in the Trojan War, when Achilles, roused out of his silence by the killing of his friend Patroclus, kills King Priam's son Hector. Incensed with wrath, Achilles takes his vengeance a step further, and drags Hector's body from his chariot around the walls of Troy. The king and his wife, who were unable to dissuade this shameful act, remain on top of the walls. She faints at the sight of her son's body being dragged through the dust; not at his noble death.

This print is part of Testa's incomplete Life of Achilles series, which only comprised three prints.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.