Romulus and Remus with their Nursemaid - Jacques-Laurent Agasse

wolf babies jacques-laurent agasse myth agasse oil art history realism 19th century animal

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Romulus and Remus were fathered by the god Mars and according to Roman mythology were brought up by a wolf Agasse has deliberately kept the colours of the wolf and the background dark and as a consequence the two children shine out of this darkness and the viewers eye is drawn to them. The wolf herself is bending down to the children much as a mother would do and this depicts the relationship between the children and the wolf.
The brothers are the traditional founders of Rome and Romulus was its first King. Indeed the dark background could be seen as a warning of things to come in the childrens future for Romulus killed his brother in a dispute over who had the support of the local gods to become king of Rome.