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Gavin Hamilton, 1723–1798

The Death of Lucretia

Former Title(s):

The Oath of Brutus

Sacrifice of Iphigenia


1763 to 1767
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
84 x 104 inches (213.4 x 264.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
(story of) Lucretia | armor | Classical | dagger | death | drapery | father | husband | myth | purple | red | religious and mythological subject | suicide | yellow
Associated People:
Lucretia (died ca. BC 508)
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

The Scottish-born painter Gavin Hamilton spent most of his adult life as a successful art dealer and archaeologist in Rome. As an artist, he played a leading role in forging the neoclassical style. According to legend, the death of Lucretia, a virtuous noblewoman during the reign of the tyrant King Tarquin, was a pivotal event in the foundation of the Roman republic. After being raped by the king’s son, Lucretia stabbed herself in the presence of her husband Collatinus, her father, and two companions-in-arms, Lucius Junius Brutus and Valerius Publicola. Dying, she begged them to seek revenge. In Hamilton’s painting, she is shown collapsing against her husband, who covers his face in grief. Brutus holds up the bloodstained dagger and, joined by Lucretia’s father and Valerius, swears an oath to overthrow Tarquin. From this moment, Brutus leads the revolt; Tarquin and his family are expelled, and the Roman republic is established.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Neoclassicism - A Taste for the Antique (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2011-03-20 - 2011-05-30) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2000-06-17 - 2000-09-17) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2000-02-27 - 2000-05-21) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Anecdotes of painting in England, <1760-1795> with some account of the principal artists : and incidental notes on other arts , Yale University Press, New Haven London, 1937, p. 95, ND461 W25 1937 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Art : The Definitive Visual History, DK Publishing, New York, 2018, p. 275, NX440 .A785 2018 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Edgar Peters Bowron, Art in Rome in the eighteenth century, Merrell, London Philadelphia, 2000, p. 381, no. 231, N6920 A7X 2000 OVERSZE (HAAS) Another copy is available in the Lewis Walpole Library [ORBIS]

David Carrier, Gavin Hamilton's Oath of Brutus and David's Oath of the Boratii, The Revisionist Interpretation of Neo-Classical Art , The Monist, Vol. 71, No. 2, April 1988, pp. 197- 213, NJ18 D26 A15 O27 1988 (YCBA) [YCBA]

David Carrier, Principles of art history writing, Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, 1991, P. 145, 146, N380 C37 1991 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Brendan Cassidy, The life & letters of Gavin Hamilton (1723-1798), artist & art dealer in eighteenth-century Rome , Harvey Miller Publishers, London, 2011, v.1, pp. 78,81,86-87,88, 93.,155-57168-69, 182,189,193,413-14, Pl. 8, NJ18.H172344 A12 2011 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Christie's sale catalogue : Fine English Portraits and Landscape Paintings : March 22, 1968, Christie's, Friday, March 22, 1968, No. 28, X348 C46 I.1968/3/22 (LSF - MUDD) [ORBIS]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 108-109, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Guillaume Faroult, Antiquity revived, neoclassical art in the eighteenth century , Gallimard, Paris, France, 2011, p. 94, 41, N6848.5 N4 A57 2011 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Catherine M. Gordon, British paintings Hogarth to Turner, Frederick Warne, London, 1981, p. 27, ND466 G67 (YCBA) [YCBA]

David Irwin, Gavin Hamilton: Archaeologist, Painter, and Dealer, Art Bulletin, Vol. 44, No. 2, June 1962, p. 96, Available online Available online in JSTOR [ORBIS]

Simon Lee, David, Phaidon, London, 1999, p. 82, NJ18 D26 L44 FMK9490 1999 (HAAS) [ORBIS]

Duncan Macmillan, Scotland and the Origins of Modern Art, London, 2023, p.52, fig.23, N6775 M33 2023 YCBA [ORBIS]

Paul Mellon's Legacy : a passion for British art [large print labels], , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 3, N5220 M552 P381 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Gillian Perry, Femininity and masculinity in eighteenth-century art and culture, Manchester University Press, Manchester New York, 1994, pp. 8-9, 78-98, NX452 F46 1994 YCBA) [ORBIS]

Robert Rosenblum, A source for David's "Horatii", Burlington Magazine, Vol. 112, No.806, May 1970, p. 269, N1 B87 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Robert Rosenblum, Gavin Hamilton's Brutus and Its Aftermath, Burlington Magazine, Vol. 103, No.964, January 1961, pp. 8- 16, fig. 22, N1 B87 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

Maria Delores Sanchez-Jauregul, The English prize, the capture of the Westmorland, an episode of the grand tour , Yale University Press, New Haven, 2012, p. 119, N9135 .E54 2012 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

B. C. Skinner, Letters- Hamilton's Oath of Brutus, by B.C. Skinner; Response by Mr. Rosenblum, Burlington Magazine, Vol. 103,no.697, April 1961, p. 146, N1 B87 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

Anthony D. Smith, Chosen peoples, sacred sources of national identity , Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003, pl. I, BL65 N3 S65 2003 (SML) [ORBIS]

Peter A. Tomory, Three Oaths for Gavin Hamilton, Australian Journal of Art, Vol. 1, 1978, pp. 59-64, N1 A88 (HAAS) [ORBIS]

William Vaughan, British painting, the Golden Age from Hogarth to Turner , Thames and Hudson, London, 1999, p. 115, ND466 V28 1999 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Helmut von Erffa, The Paintings of Benjamin West, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1986, p. 38, NJ18 W52 A12 +E73 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Ellis Waterhouse, The British contribution to the neo-classical style in painting., Vol. 1954, London, 1955, pp. 71-72, pl. IX, ND464 W35 (YCBA) [YCBA]

John Woodward, British painting, a picture history , Vista Books, London, 1962, p. 55, ND464 W66 1962 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Yale Center for British Art, Selected paintings, drawings & books, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1977, p. 23, N590.2 A82 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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