The scene is derived from Marmontel's novel 'Bélisaire' (1767). The general Belisarius, unjustly blinded and impoverished by the eastern Roman emperor Justinian, is welcomed as a hero into the home of a peasant who introduces him to his family. At the left stands the peasant's son who had once served under Belisarius and who now plans vengeance against Justinian. Like 'Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi' this painting may be a sketch exhibited by Peyron at the 1785 Paris Salon for a larger version of the subject now in Toulouse.
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These two paintings were made as sketches for pendants, or companion pieces, intended to be shown together.