Livy's record of Scipio's magnanimous character was popular in Dutch golden age painting, poetry, and theater as a moralizing example. During Emperor Scipio Africanus’s siege of Carthage in 209 BC, he showed great magnanimity by freeing Celtiberian Prince Allucius and his fiancé and allowing them to marry. Although the woman’s parents offered Scipio their treasure as ransom, Scipio refused it and instead gave it back to the couple as wedding present, prompting Allucius to pledge his own tribe’s loyalty to the Romans. In the politically turbulent 17th century, images of Scipio like the present example were commissioned for town halls and court buildings to remind viewers to be benevolent leaders.
1. Van Kuijl was a witness to Van Honthorst’s wife’s will in 1625. See F. Tissink & H.F. de Wit, Gorcumse schilders in de Gouden Eeuw, Gorinchem 1987, p. 26.
2. For example, Van Honthorst’s posthumous Portrait of Frederick V, signed and dated 1633. See J.R. Judson & R.E.O. Ekkart, Gerrit van Honthorst: 1592-1656, Doornspijk 1999, p. 260, no. 332, ill. 222.
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