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Cicero at his Villa
The Trustees of the British Museum
William Woollett (1735-1785) after Wilson
Cicero at his Villa
Published 4 June 1778
Etching and engraving
445 x 552 mm
17 1/2 x 21 3/4 in.
1845,0724.138
E45
A landscape with a villa seen behind trees to right of centre, overlooking a turbulent river which passes under a bridge and flows into the left foreground, with rolling hills and mountains in the background and three figures standing on the bank in front of a fallen tree trunk in the right foreground, one gesturing upwards to right at an ancient tree
Purchased from W. & G. Smith, 1845
Lettered below the image with the title, a dedication from Woollett to Sir John Smith, Bart., around a coat of arms with the motto 'Humani Nihil Alienum' and 'Painted by Rich.d Wilson R.A. Engraved by Wm. Woollett Engraver to his MAJESTY Published as the Act directs, June 4th. 1778, by Wm. Woollett, in Green Street, Leicester Fields, London.'.
The Volscian hill town of Arpinum lies in the province of Frosinone, 70 miles south-east of Rome. Founded by the 7th century BC., it was captured by the Romans in 305 BC. Marcus Tullius Cicero was born on 3 January 106 BC at the family home just outside Arpinum. Cicero's family belonged to the local nobility and had connections with leading political figures in Rome. His provincial origin would define and haunt Cicero's life and career and differentiate him from, for example, his life-long friend and confidant, Titus Pomponius Atticus, who was a Roman born and bred. This is clear from the dialogue, De Legibus, which he composed in the late 50s and which contains the following exchange:
Cicero: Now, when it is possible for me to get away for more days, especially at this time of year, I make for the beauty and the healthy climate of this place, though it is seldom possible. But there is in fact another reason that gives me pleasure, which does not apply to you, Titus.
Atticus: And what is that?
Cicero: This is, to tell the truth, my own and my brother's real fatherland. Here are the most ancient roots from which we are descended; here are our family shrines, here our family, here the many traces of our ancestors.
(Cicero, De Legibus, 2.3-5)
D178 Arpinum, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
D371 Study for 'Cicero and his Friends', Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
P162 Cicero with his Friend Atticus and Bother Quintus at his Villa at Arpinum, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
P162A Cicero with his Friend Atticus and Brother Quintus at his Villa at Arpinum, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
P162B Cicero, Atticus and Quintus at his Villa at Arpinum, Private Collection, London
Booth Notes Doc. 7; Edwards 1808, p. 88; Fagan 1876, p. 158; Fagan 1885, p. 45, cat. C, 5th State; Solkin 1982, p. 236, n.2
01/08/2017