Refusing the Gifts of the Samnites

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Brabant-Brussels, Belgium
Refusing the Gifts of the Samnites, ca. 1530–60
Wool and silk weft and linen warp
167 3/8 × 228 in. (425.13 × 579.12 cm)
Gift of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation M1953.148
Photo credit: Larry Sanders
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In Northern Europe, tapestries were prized and costly works of art. Used to decorate walls in both religious and secular spaces, large tapestries served much the same function as fresco paintings in Italy and Spain. This example comes from a workshop in the great Renaissance center for Flemish tapestry Brabant-Brussels. The central figure is identified as the third-century BC Roman general Manius Curius Dentatus. Clad in Roman-inspired ceremonial armor, he stares resolutely ahead, pleased with his army’s defeat of the Samnites. The general’s refusal to accept the victories of war earned Dentatus a reputation for justice and incorruptibility. The story would have appealed to Renaissance princes.

This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.