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French, An Allegory

Key facts
Full title An Allegory
Artist French
Date made 19th century
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 177 × 137 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Frédéric Mélé, 1908
Inventory number NG2289
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
An Allegory

It has been suggested that this picture shows Attila driving Beauty, Art and Pleasure before him. Attila, who is often known as Attila the Hun, was ruler of the Huns, a nomadic people who lived in Central Asia, the Caucasus and Eastern Europe between the fourth and sixth centuries AD.

The painting was formerly attributed to the French Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863), in part because of the mural Attila Tramples Italy and the Arts he painted in the half-dome of the Library of the Chamber of Deputies at the Palais Bourbon, Paris, in which Attila represents philistinism. However, it has a false signature by Delacroix, and is not now thought to be by him.

The picture was severely damaged in a flood at the Tate Gallery in 1928, and much of it is covered by paper to hold the paint in place. Black-and-white photographs taken before the flood damage provide a record of the original composition.

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