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MARCUS Sextus, escaped from the proscriptions of Sylla, discovers, on his way home, his daughter in tears, beside the body of his deceased wife.
This picture is the first work of a young artist, and exhibits such traits of excellence, as to render the admirers of the art solicitous that such extraordinary talents may advance, with regular steps, towards perfection. It attracted, during its exhibition, uncommon attention and applause. It was praised in all the public journals, and celebrated by poets in complimentary verses to the artist, whose extreme modesty cast considerable lustre on his fame.
This picture cannot be contemplated without emotions of terror and of pity. A wife expiring through affliction and want, at the moment when the presence and the attentions of her husband might possibly have preserved her life; a young girl clasping the knees of her father, her mind divided between the grief of losing her mother, and the satisfaction she experiences on beholding her persecuted sire; and a proscribed warrior, escaped from the oppression of a sanguinary tyrant, finding, on his return to his dwelling, only a spectacle of horror and despair, present a scene capable of interesting the most obdurate heart.
Such is the subject of the picture, in treating which, Guerin has been particularly happy. In a style grand and simple, he has united great sensibility, expressions eminently correct; and to purity of design and vigour of colouring, added a peculiar charm, and all the graces and naïveté of the pencil. But it is impossible, by this feeble outline, to convey a just idea of the beauties of the original; which it is universally acknowledged, says a French critic, are of the first order.
For this picture, which does honour to the French school, M. Guerin was adjudged a prize of the first class; and to prevent its falling into foreign hands, a memorial was presented, by a body of artists, to the President of the Academy, that government might make the purchase, which, by some fatality, was neglected. It is now the property of M. Decretot de Louviers, and has been engraved by Blot.