Plutarch writes of Lycurgus, the legislator of ancient Sparta, ordering Spartan girls to engage in wrestling contests; here they urge the boys to fight.An early work, probably begun about 1860. The painting was reworked several times, and numerous related drawings and studies survive, for example a study in oils in the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Although listed in the catalogue for the 1880 Impressionist exhibition, it was not shown and remained in the artist's studio until his death.
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