This painting is of an ancient Roman legend by the 19th-century British artist Benjamin Robert Haydon, 1786-1846. it shows the young Marcus Curtius throwing himself into a huge crack in the ground that had opened up in Rome. According to legend , the Roman gods were satisfied with Curtius's scarifice and the crack closed again. In Haydon's painting, Curtius is a self-portrait. Haydon was born in plymouth. He was a skillful, ambitious artist who painted many epic scenes from history. But his work was unfashionable. In 1846 he followed his hero Curtius by commiting suicide.