Felice Ficherelli

Antiochus Prince of Syria and Stratonica His Stepmother

Antiochus Prince of Syria and Stratonica His Stepmother by Felice Ficherelli

Artwork Detail

It has been a long historical tradition for daughters to be used as pawns to establish political and social peace between warring countries or families. So it was in Syria in 294 BC when Seleucus I Nicator, the king of an empire centred on Syria and Iran, was given Stratonica, the daughter of Demetrius, in marriage. Seleucus was in his mid-sixties at the time, but Stratonica was almost certainly much younger. Antiochus, the son of Seleucus, fell in love with his stepmother, but believing his passion hopeless, began to starve himself to death. The doctor noticed that Antiochus's pulse rate increased in Stratonica's presence, and in order to save his son, Seleucus surrendered his wife and his kingdom to him. The custom of marrying young women and girls to older men was still widespread in seventeenth-century Europe, and the theme of Antiochus and Stratonica allowed patrons and artists to illustrate the problems inherent in such a practice. The painting was believed, until recently, to be by Francesco Furini (1604-46), but Elisa Acanfora records its reattribution to Felice Ficherelli, who worked in Florence at the same time as Furini, and was very much influenced by his delicate sfumato effects. (from The Guide, 2001)

Antiochus Prince of Syria and Stratonica His Stepmother
Felice Ficherelli
Production date
circa 1638
oil on canvas
1447 x 1901 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Mr Norman B Spencer, 1961
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
On display

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