SAINT LOUIS, MO.-
The Saint Louis Art Museum
is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of François-André Vincent's Arria and Poetus, a neoclassical oil painting on canvas. The Museum has been interested in adding a neoclassical painting to its collection for more than 20 years.
"After a twenty-year search, we are pleased to be able to offer an extraordinary example of French neoclassicism in our collection," said Judith Mann, curator of European Art to 1800. "We couldn't have found a better example in terms of quality and the year in which it was first exhibited; 1785 was an extremely important year in the development of Neoclassicism."
The painting depicts the story of the Roman wife Arria visiting her husband, Poetus, who is imprisoned. In the scene, Arria tells Poetus that the honorable thing is to commit suicide, but when he proves reluctant, she takes a knife and demonstrates for him, handing him the weapon afterwards and saying, "Poetus, it does not hurt." Vincent has focused on the moment just before Arria plunges the knife into her breast. Looking straight at Poetus, Arria gestures to her head, emphasizing that her husband already knows what must be done.
The painting was purchased with funds donated by Mr. and Mrs. John Peters MacCarthy and Christian B. Peper, as well as a gift from Horace Morison by exchange. Arria and Poetus will be on view in Gallery 204 beginning March 6 as part of the exhibition Reviving Antiquity: François-André Vincent, Harriet Hosmer and Giovanni Battista Piranesi.