This tempera on paper narrates one of the most significant events in the history of the foundation of Rome: the killing of Remus by his brother Romulus. The painter Andrea Appiani, born and educated in Lombardy, was one of the few Italian painters from the second half of the eighteenth century who gained a concrete European reputation. In 1791 he undertook a formative trip between Parma, Florence, Bologna, and Rome, which led him to enrich his repertoire with new themes and styles. Resta però sempre legato all’ambiente lombardo, diventa docente all’Accademia di Brera e pittore di punta della Repubblica Cisalpina; la vasta attività del pittore, molto apprezzato da Napoleone, gli resero la carica di primo pittore del Re d’Italia nel 1804.However, he always remained linked to the Lombard environment, becoming a teacher at the Brera Academy and a leading painter in the Cisalpine Republic The painter’s vast activity, much appreciated by Napoleon, earned him the position of the first painter of the King of Italy in 1804.
Here fascinated by the theme of painting history, the neoclassical painter produces, through his use of tempera, a vivid image, a little dry but sober and brilliant in the spreading of the colour, applied confidently and smoothly. The violent nature of the scene here clashes with the desire to render a beauty expressed both in the practical artistic component and in the careful representation of nature. The result is an almost graceful depiction of a terrible event, rendered with great strength and sincerity through the use of canon.
Bibl.: G. Natali, Il Settecento, Milano 1950, p. 89; A. Ottino Della Chiesa, L’età neoclassica in Lombardia, catalogo della mostra, Como 1959, pp. 33-39, 94-