Scipio Africanus Freeing Massiva

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo1719-1721 (Baroque)

The Walters Art Museum

The Walters Art Museum
Baltimore, United States

As described by the Roman historian Livy (1st century BC), the youthful Massiva was the nephew of a prince of Numidia in present-day Algeria who had supported Scipio Africanus (a Roman general so known because of his conquests in North Africa) and the Romans in battle. The young Massiva was captured by the Romans in 209 BC and brought before Scipio. When Scipio learned the youth's identity, he sent him back to his uncle laden with gifts. Tiepolo, the greatest Italian history painter of the 18th century, combines dramatic gestures, grand scale, and classical architecture to tell his story of generosity and statesmanship. Details such as the banner with the initials of the Roman state situate the story in Roman history. Under the artistic conventions of the time, North Africans of high status, including Numidians, were generally depicted with European features. The black youth chatting with the soldiers on the left is probably Scipio's servant. For more information on this painting, please see Federico Zeri's 1976 catalogue no. 449, pp. 559-560.


  • Title: Scipio Africanus Freeing Massiva
  • Creator Lifespan: 1696/1770
  • Creator Nationality: Italian
  • Date Created: 1719-1721 (Baroque)
  • Physical Dimensions: w487.6 x h279.4 cm
  • Type: oil paintings
  • Rights: Acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection, 1902, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
  • External Link: The Walters Art Museum
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Provenance: Don Marcello Massarenti Collection, Rome [date and mode of acquisition unknown] [1897 catalogue: no. 404]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1902, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
  • Place of Origin: Venice, Italy
  • Painter: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
  • Inscriptions: [Transcription] On the standard held by the soldier to the left of center: SPQR [Senatus Populusque Romanus]
  • ExhibitionHistory: Tiepolo Unveiled: The Restoration of a Masterpiece. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1996; Giambattista Tiepolo 1696-1996. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 1997; Highlights from the Collection. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1998-2001

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