The Assassination of Julius Caesar

Master of the Apollini Sacrumlate 1400s

Spencer Museum of Art

Spencer Museum of Art

This panel depicts the death of Julius Caesar in a continuous narrative, with four sequential scenes in one setting. The story reads from left to right: priests warn Caesar not to go to the Senate; Caesar refuses to look at the scroll that identifies the conspirators and their plans; conspirators stab Caesar at the Senate; Caesar is placed in honor on his funeral pyre.

Though the costumes and setting are late 15th-century Italian, viewers at that time would have been familiar with the story of Julius Caesar and would have understood the narrative as a depiction of ancient Rome. The artist included Trajan’s column, a key monument, at the far right to emphasize this point.

This painting decorated a cassone, one of a pair of wedding chests that a groom ordered for his bedchamber. 15th-century Italians traced their ancestry back to the ancient Romans. Images of their forebears’ lives reflect pride in their lineage. This association is appropriate for a room concerned with the continuance of the family line.

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  • Title: The Assassination of Julius Caesar
  • Creator: Master of the Apollini Sacrum
  • Date Created: late 1400s
  • Physical Dimensions: Canvas/Support Dimensions: 44.5 x 151.1 cm, Canvas/Support Dimensions: 17 1/2 x 59 1/2 in
  • Type: paintings
  • Medium: tempera on wood

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