Camillus and the Schoolmaster of Falerii

Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594-1665)
c. 1635-40
Oil on canvas 
39-5/8 x 54 in. (100.6 x 137.2 cm) 
Credit Line:
The Norton Simon Foundation 
Accession Number:
© The Norton Simon Foundation 
On View

The incident depicted here is from Livy's account of the life of Republican leader and general Furius Camillus. While the general was besieging the town of Falerii, a local schoolmaster lured his pupils to the Roman camp, hoping to offer them as hostages. Finding the schoolmaster guilty of treason, Camillus offered him up to his students for punishment. The schoolmaster's twisted and distorted figure becomes a symbol of immorality and evil. The ethical Camillus, by contrast, is erect and well proportioned. Whatever the political overtones, Poussin's composition encourages us to contemplate the difference between shapeless ugliness and harmonious form.


Painted for Michel Passart, Paris (d. 1692), ca. 1635, still in 1683.
Neyret de la Ravoye, in 1701.
J. Meijers, Rotterdam (sale, 9 September 1722, lot 1, as smaller of two works titled Furius Camillus, sold to);
Cornelis Wittert van Valkenburg, Rotterdam (sale, 11 April 1731, lot 4, bought-in);
Van Valkenberg, Rotterdam (sale, 7 October 1733, lot 14, sold to);
H. de Lange, The Hague.
Fürsten zu Schaumburg-Lippe, by 1738, (sale, Bückeburg, 3 April 1929, to);
Rosenbaum, Frankfort.
Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, sold 4 August 1931 to;
[Julius Böhler, Munich; stock nos. 31-62 / 7379, sold a 1/2 share to];
[Lucerne Fine Art Co., Lucerne, sold 5 April 1934 to];
Henri-Lévy, Strasbourg, by descent to;
Heirs of Henri-Lévy; offered November 1969 and subsequently sold 1970, by Claude Lang, Brussels (son-in-law of Henri-Lévy),
through Kenneth Walker, New York, to;
The Norton Simon Foundation.

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