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Samuel Woodforde (1763-1817), The Siege of Thebes by Alexander the Great

Samuel Woodforde (1763-1817), The Siege of Thebes by Alexander the Great


Circa 1805 England

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Height 15 inches (38.10 cm)
Width 19 1/2 inches (49.53 cm)
Depth 1 1/2 inches (3.81 cm)

Watercolour on paper; held in 19th century frame

Provenance: The Earl of Yarborough, Brocklesby Park

Woodforde was a talented artist who travelled to Italy in the late 18th century and by 1807 was elected a member of the Royal Academy in London. He made his name by painting sensitive portraits, bold historical scenes - as with the picture here - and engaging literary subjects such as episodes from Shakespeare.

In 335 BC Alexander the Great laid siege to the city of Thebes, which was in revolt. Woodforde depicts him directing the assault surrounded by his generals. The artist has drawn the immense city walls and visible structure as a fantastical amalgamation of largely Northern European architecture, as opposed to anything more Grecian in style, perhaps to emphasise certain ideological differences between the two opponents. Thebes was razed to the ground which contrasts with the victory at Gaugamela in 331, when Alexander ordered the rebuilding of Plataea, which in turn had been destroyed by Thebeans in 373 because of her previous services to Greece. Thus, Alexander destroyed one famous city and rebuilt another!

Reference 1133

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