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The Intervention of the Sabine Women
Giulio Licinio
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The Intervention of the Sabine Women is one of a series of paintings that show scenes from ancient Roman history. They were probably intended to be inserted into wall panelling. Three other pictures in the series are in the National Gallery’s collection: The Attack on Cartagena, The Continence of Scipio and The Rape of the Sabines.

Shortly after the foundation of Rome, the Romans tried to negotiate with the neighbouring Sabines to secure wives, but the Sabine men refused to allow their women to marry the Romans. At a festival to Neptune, the Romans grabbed the Sabine women and fought off their menfolk.

This painting shows the episode following the abduction. The Sabine women rush onto the battlefield to hold apart the warring Sabine and Roman armies, imploring their fathers among the Sabines and their husbands among the Romans not to spill each other’s blood. On the left, the Sabines agree to live as one nation with the Romans.

Key facts
Artist Giulio Licinio
Artist dates about 1527; died after 1584
Full title The Intervention of the Sabine Women
Series Scenes from Ancient Roman History
Date made after 1566
Medium and support Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
Dimensions 35.6 x 153 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1860
Inventory number NG644.2
Location in Gallery Not on display
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Scenes from Ancient Roman History

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These four pictures are from a series of paintings of scenes from ancient Roman history. They were made for the decoration of a room and were originally painted on panel but have since been transferred to canvas. Their size and horizontal format suggests they were probably intended to be inserted into wall panelling, as was common practice in Renaissance Venice.

The pictures in the National Gallery’s collection show: The Attack on Cartagena; The Continence of Scipio; The Rape of the Sabines; and The Intervention of the Sabine Women. Two other pictures from the same series, Coriolanus and Scipio rewarding the Soldiers, are in a private collection.

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