This information is ©
The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow 2018
"Departure of Regulus" 1771
CRE GREEN, Valentine; (English; 1739-1813) AFTER WEST, Benjamin; (American; 1738-1820)
printed in black
63.4 x 88.0
"B.West pinxit, London 1769. V.Green fecit". Illegible publication inscription "...17th 1771"
West's painting of The Departure of Regulus (Royal Collection) was exhibited at the first Royal Academy exhibition in 1769, and the King's acquisition of this work for 'the princely reward of one thousand guineas' led to West's appointment as Royal Painter. Green's mezzotint was exhibited at the Society of Artists exhibition of 1772 (cat. 110), in which year he was also working on a plate that Hunter had commissioned, the portrait of Dr Cullen by the Glasgow-trained painter William Cochrane (cat. 81). From 1773 Valentine Green used the title of 'Royal Engraver'. The honour was certainly due to the mezzotints he made of the series of West's paintings, which added up to a gallery of ancient virtue to inspire the young king.
The subject concerns the First Punic War. Regulus was a consul who led the Roman forces in Africa, but was captured by the Carthaginians. In 249 B.C. he was sent back to Rome by the Carthaginians bringing peace terms, which he advised the Senate to reject. With great bravery he returned to Carthage knowing that he would be executed. Regulus was a national hero, and the episode is famously treated by Horace (one of Hunter's favourite Latin authors) in a nationalistic poem, Odes III, 5, which was standard reading for eighteenth-century gentlemen. Regulus displayed the kind of Stoic courage in the face of death that was a dominant theme in neo-classical art. West's imagery was understood to be innovative. Giuseppe Baretti noted that 'The Art and Artists are greatly indebted to Mr West for having been one of the first, who opened the eyes of the English to the merits of the modern Historical Painting, and excited in them a desire of seeing it flourish in this happy island' (Guide through the Royal Academy, 1781, p. 26. Hunter also owned Valentine Green's mezzotints of West's Hannibal, Death of Chevalier Bayard, Death of Epaminondas and Elija.
HUNTER 2007 : HISTORY SUBJECT : REPRODUCTIVE PRINT : ROYAL ACADEMY : ROMAN HISTORY : CARTHAGE : BARON GROS PEST HOUSE AT JAFFA : NEOCLASSICISM :