- Museum number
Mucius Scaevola; thrusting his hand and dagger into the fire burning on the altar at right, looking defiantly at Porsena seated on a throne at left, guards looking on behind or holding their noses, a boy supporting the body of a man, and a soldier leaning on his shield at left foreground; circular. c.1620
Pen and brown ink with brown wash
- Production date
Height: 220 millimetres
Width: 220 millimetres (circular)
- Curator's comments
- This drawing is among several that reflect the problems of identifying the hand of Rubens and the young Van Dyck. It depicts Mucius Scaveola thrusting his hand into the altar fire in a composition that compares with a painting of the same subject by Rubens now in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest (inv. 749) which is generally dated to circa 1618 to 1620. For such reasons, combined with the fine handling of the pen work in a manner similar to Rubens’ as in the bust of Seneca also in the BM (see 1858,0724.2), Elizabeth McGrath gave it to Rubens (Corpus Rubenianum XIII, no.45) in a view also held Jeremy Wood also drew attention to this uncertainty (Wood 1989). Both, however, conceded that it is possibly a copy made by the young Van Dyck after a lost original by Rubens.
Lit: J. Wood, 'Rubens or Van Dyck? "Mucius Scaevola before Lars Porsenna" and Some Problematic Drawings', in Mercury (10) 1989, pp.32-34, fig.2; E. McGrath, ‘Corpus Rubenianum, XIII. Subjects from History’, London, 1997, no.45.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Label on mount inscribed by Mariette (?): "Mutius Scevola devant Porsenna Roy...".
1860,0616.133-139 were acquired from Tiffin's purchases at the Lawrence/ Woodburn sale, not commission bids with him acting as agent for the BM.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number