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A Spartan Woman Giving a Shield to Her Son

Jean%20Jacques%20Fran%26%23231%3Bois%20Lebarbier%2C%20%3Cb%3E%3Ci%3E%20A%20Spartan%20Woman%20Giving%20a%20Shield%20to%20Her%20Son%3C%2Fi%3E%3C%2Fb%3E%2C%201805%2C%20oil%20on%20panel%2C%20Museum%20Purchase%3A%20Helen%20Thurston%20Ayer%20and%20the%20Honorable%20George%20Rossman%20Funds%2C%20public%20domain%2C%2085.58
Jean Jacques François Lebarbier, A Spartan Woman Giving a Shield to Her Son, 1805, oil on panel, Museum Purchase: Helen Thurston Ayer and the Honorable George Rossman Funds, public domain, 85.58

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Details
Title

A Spartan Woman Giving a Shield to Her Son

Artist

Jean Jacques François Lebarbier (French, 1738-1826)

Date

1805

Medium

oil on panel

Dimensions (H x W x D)

17 7/8 in x 21 1/4 in

Inscriptions & Markings

signature/maker's mark: Signed "Le Barbieu Ainé 1805" Center right.

Collection Area

European Art

Category

Paintings

Object Type

painting

Culture

French

Credit Line

Museum Purchase: Helen Thurston Ayer and the Honorable George Rossman Funds

Accession Number

85.58

Copyright

public domain

Terms

Neoclassical

oil paint

oil paintings

paintings

panels

shields

Location

Belluschi Building

Ayer Wing

2nd Floor

Mary and Pete Mark Gallery

Description

Like other artists of his time, Jean-Jacques-François Le Barbier rejected the lighthearted grace of the Rococo in favor of the high-minded severity of Neoclassicism. His subjects, often vignettes from Greek and Roman mythology and history, served as illustrations for the newly found morality and patriotism of the French during and after the Revolution.

The subject of this painting is a Spartan woman bidding her husband farewell in the traditional manner, "Return carrying your shield or on it." All elements of the painting reinforce its message of civil duty. The children playing with the warrior's lance allude to Spartan military training, which began in infancy. The simplicity of the stone-walled interior underscores the austerity of Spartan existence, while the dog is both a symbol of fidelity and a reference to the famed dogs of Sparta.

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