TU MARCELLUS ERIS
The story behind this piece is extremely complex. Commissioned by General Miollis, French Governor in Rome, for his residence at the Villa Aldobrandini, the painting was sold on to Francesco Borghese before Ingres himself bought it back in 1835. In 1868, the painting joined the museum but was drastically damaged. Shortly before his death, Ingres undertook to correct certain aspects with which he was not satisfied but left the work unfinished. Jean Pichon, one of his pupils, eventually completed the missing sections when the piece was already at the Augustins.
The scene presents Virgil, on the left, holding the unrolled manuscript of the Aenid. The Emperor Augustus and his sister Octavia face him. Octavia faints when the poet pronounces the words “Tu Marcellus eris”, reminding her of her assassinated son. Finally, sitting next to them we see Livia, wife of Augustus and probably the person behind the murder of Marcellus.
The influence of David’s neoclassicism is particularly remarkable here. Ingres was David’s pupil after having attended the Toulouse Academy of Fine Arts (l'Académie des beaux-arts de Toulouse).
The Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels have a piece with the same subject and very similar composition, painted by Ingres around 1820.