Oil on canvas, unfinished.
The painting depicts a Roman legend: the suicide of the noblewoman Lucretia after she was raped by Tarquin, the son of an Etruscan king.
It was purchased by John, 5th Earl of Exeter (1648-1700), whilst on the Grand Tour, and appears in the 1688 Burghley Inventory: ‘The Passage by ye Hall Staires….. 1 peice of wo[man] stabing her Selfe, by–.’
The painting is based on the original of 1625-6 which is in the Neues Palace, Potsdam.
Guido Reni was born into a family of musicians in Bologna, where he trained from a very early age in the studio of Denis Calvaert (1540-1619)
He became a leading artist of the Bolognese School, establishing two studios, which between them had almost two hundred pupils, through whom his influence was assured.
He was also active in both Rome and Naples.