The Death of the Roman Consul Marcus Atilius Regulus

Boucicaut Masterabout 1413–1415

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Two cruel Carthaginian torturers crush the Roman consul Marcus Atilius Regulus between spiked boards set up on trestles. The brutal scene takes place inside a low, gray-walled enclosure. To the right, three elderly, bearded men peer over the wall, gravely contemplating the spectacle before them. The Boucicaut Master furthered the drama of the episode by contrasting Regulus's pale clothing and pathetic facial expression with the hefty physicality of the torturers.

The Roman consul Regulus served in the Punic war, defeating the Carthaginians in 256 B.C. His demands for an unconditional surrender, however, so angered the Carthaginians that they continued their battle and in 255 soundly defeated the Romans. As a Carthaginian prisoner, Regulus was sent back to Rome to negotiate a peace treaty. Against the protests of his fellow citizens, he returned to Carthage to fulfill the terms of his captivity; according to legend, he was then tortured to death. The Romans saw Regulus as a hero, and his legend was kept alive through inclusion in medieval texts like Giovanni Boccaccio's Concerning the Fates of Illustrious Men and Women.


  • Title: The Death of the Roman Consul Marcus Atilius Regulus
  • Creator: Boucicaut Master
  • Date Created: about 1413–1415
  • Location Created: Paris, France
  • Physical Dimensions: Leaf: 42 × 29.6 cm (16 9/16 × 11 5/8 in.)
  • Type: Folio
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 96.MR.17.140v
  • Culture: French
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. 63, fol. 140v
  • Creator Display Name: Boucicaut Master or workshop (French, active about 1390 - 1430)
  • Classification: Manuscripts (Documents)

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