The Intervention of the Sabine Women

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Jacques-Louis David, The Intervention of the Sabine Women, 1799

This is some serious woman power - I mean really serious female fortitude. In this painting, Hersilia, wife of the ruler of Rome, throws herself between a spear and a sword to stop the violence between the Romans and the Sabines. Hersilia felt it was her job to prevent the senseless killing of neighbors, and she put her life at risk so that others may not die. Influenced by her strength, other Sabine women jump into the middle of the battle. The unfamiliarity of women among warriors is quite evident based on the facial expressions of the three main men, Hersilia's husband, father, and the man with the horses. To be honest, it even looks like the horses are confused by their presence.

David painted The Intervention of the Sabine Women when in jail for his participation in the Reign of Terror. David got pretty lonely in jail and had a hard time deciding what to paint, until one day he was inspired by his wife. His wife, and many other women, were outspoken during the Reign of Terror. David wanted to do a little throw-back tribute to all the women who didn't just sit back and let the men run wild.

An interesting component of the painting is the contrast of the women to the men. The nudity of the men is raw and animalistic, while the women have a more sophisticated and tame air about them. The men are so wild they don't even notice the children on the ground. However, when the men see the women, they hesitate and think more carefully about what they're doing. David wanted to honor his wife for her bravery, always being with him, and for influencing his art. In addition, David paid his homage to the women who were standing their ground in France.

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