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Rape of the Sabine Women

Nicolas Poussin

Rape of the Sabine Women

Nicolas Poussin
  • Original Title: L'Enlèvement des Sabines
  • Date: 1637 - 1638
  • Style: Classicism
  • Genre: mythological painting
  • Media: oil, canvas
  • Dimensions: 206 x 159 cm
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Poussin created two interpretations of this theme, The Rape of the Sabine Women and The Abduction of the Sabine Women. Both paintings tell the legendary story of the men of Rome acquiring wives for themselves by kidnapping them from their Sabine neighbors. As the story goes, shortly after the founding of Rome, there were very few women, so Romulus held a festival, inviting members of the neighboring towns. At the festival, on the signal of Romulus, the Roman men abducted the women to take them for their wives. In this context, the word “rape” is more closely tied to “abduction,” as in the act of taking the women, rather than sexually assaulting them. This theme has been revisited throughout antiquity in paintings, sculptures, and literature. Poussin’s work now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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