The Gallery has acquired an exquisite example of French neoclassical history painting by the celebrated painter
Girodet’s painting depicts the legendary Roman general Gaius Marcius Coriolanus bidding farewell to his family after he was banished from the city in the 5th century BCE. With its radical simplification of form, the work demonstrates the artist’s masterful assimilation of his teacher
Coriolanus Taking Leave of His Family transforms the Gallery’s collection of 18th- and 19th-century paintings. History painting, which portrays historical, mythological, or religious subjects, was the most ambitious genre of painting in France for more than two centuries. Girodet’s painting is the first French neoclassical example of this genre to enter the Gallery’s collection and represents one of the most significant examples of its kind in the United States. Currently being treated by Gallery conservators, it is in excellent condition—unlined, still on its original stretcher, and likely untouched since it was first painted.