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Henry Tresham RA, Death of Virginia

Death of Virginia, 1797

Henry Tresham RA

RA Collection: Art

Demonstrative and highly emotive, Henry Tresham’s history paintings show the influence of Henry Fuseli. This work illustrates a Roman story dating from ca. 450BC, in which the centurion Virginus stabbed his daughter, Virginia, to protect her from the lust of a cruel consul, Appius Claudius Crassus. Virginus put his daughter’s honour before her life. This event brought about an uprising and the eventual fall of the ruling Decemvir, who were

renowned for abusing their power.

Tresham was born in Ireland and studied at the Dublin Society’s drawing school before leaving for Italy in 1775. He settled in Rome for thirteen years but was more active as an art dealer than a painter there. On his return to London he became a key contributor to Robert Bowyer’s History Gallery and John Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery.

Object details

Death of Virginia
Object type
Oil on canvas

558 mm x 930 mm x 20 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Diploma Work given by Henry Tresham RA accepted 1799

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