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Massacres of the Triumvirate

© Musée du Louvre/A. Dequier - M. Bard

Paintings
French painting

Author(s):
Pomarède Vincent

This painting alludes to the massacres that took place during the Wars of Religion: on April 6, 1561, the Constable of Montmorency was joined by Jacques d'Albon de Saint-André and the Duc de Guise in an anti-Protestant triumvirate. The Roman monuments, both ancient and contemporary, and the sculptures, the Apollo Belvedere and the Dioscuri, are clearly inspired by Antoine Lafréry's engravings.

Appian's history given a contemporary twist

During the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the Hellenistic historian Appian wrote a 24-volume history of Rome, of which Books XIII-XVII are devoted to the Civil Wars and the massacres carried out by Mark Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus when they became triumvirs in 43 BC. Here Antoine Caron's choice of subject echoes the massacres perpetrated by Catholics and Protestants alike, with more specific reference to the slaughter of Protestants on April 6, 1561 by the "triumvirate" comprising the Constable of Montmorency, Jacques d'Albon de Saint-André, and the Duc de Guise.

A Rome of the imagination

The Massacre under the Triumvirate draws its vision of ancient Rome from the engraver Lafréry's Speculum romanae magnificentia: Caron himself had not been to Italy. On the right are Emperor Commodus as Hercules, discovered in 1507; the Arch of Constantine, built in 315 AD; Michelangelo's Capitoline Square; and the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius. On the left are the Apollo Belvedere; the triumphal arch of Septimus Severus, dating from 203 AD; and Trajan's Column. The centre is occupied by the Colosseum, opened by Domitian in 80 AD; and the Pantheon. In the far background stand the triumphal arch of Titus on the right, and the Castel Sant'Angelo and Ponte Sant'Angelo on the left.

A gift from the Marquis de Jaucourt

The Massacre under the Triumvirate was given to the Louvre in 1939 by the Marquis de Jaucourt. Originally a single work, it was divided, at an unknown date, into three separate panels.

Technical description

  • Antoine CARON (Beauvais, 1521 - Paris, 1599)

    Massacres of the Triumvirate

    1566

  • H. 1.16 m; W. 1.95 m

  • Gift of the marquis de Jaucourt, 1939

    R.F. 1939-28

  • Paintings

    Richelieu wing
    2nd floor
    Cousin and Caron
    Room 9

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