La Bella Italia - Arte e Identità delle città Capitali, Turin, 2011; catalogue by A. Paolucci; p.96
The large drawing on paper here presented, is considered a masterpiece of Luigi Ademollo’s production.
The work represents the culmination of the famous duel between the Horatii and the Curiatii brothers.
The event is undoubtedly one of the most important moments in the history of ancient Rome. During the reign of King Tullius Hostilius around the mid-seventh century B.C., Rome came into conflict with the city of Alba Longa, engaging in fights right at the border of the respective territories of the two cities. The King of Alba Longa proposed to entrust the battle to a duel between two groups, in order to avoid a terrible bloodshed. The three Horatii brothers were chosen to represent Rome, while the Curiatii triplets represented the city of Alba Longa.
After witnessing the death of his two brothers, and being left alone to face the Curiatii triplets – the last of the Horatii, was able to engage the enemies one by one, leading Rome to victory.
According to Titus Livius’ narrative, the last of the Horatii brothers uttered the famous phrase which appears on the bottom of our sketch: Duos fratrum manibus dedi; tertium causae belli huiusce, ut Romanus Albano imperet dabo (I offered the souls of my brothers to my enemies, and the third I will sacrifice for the victory of Rome over Alba Longa), as he was about to stab the neck of the last of his opponents with a sword has it is represented on our drawing.
The work can be dated around 1790 and 1795; the subject which is depicted with a beautiful scenic emphasis, was almost certainly inspired by the fresco in the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the Campidoglio in Rome, completed by the Cavalier d’Arpino between 1612 and 1613.