Oil on canvas
Unframed: 62.2 x 68 cm (24 1/2 x 26 3/4 in.)
Bequest of Elizabeth Ludwig Fennell 2007.275
Alexandre Cabanel was a leader of the academic artists who rejected the paintings of Édouard Manet and other "realists" from the Salon of 1863, producing a vast outcry that forced the government to organize the alternative Salon des Refusés.
The French painter Alexandre Cabanel was a favorite of Emperor Napoleon III and a leader of the academic style that emphasized precise drawing and smoothly modelled forms. This painting depicts the wealthy Roman woman Algae and her concubine slave Boniface, here living as pagan sinners in Rome around AD 290. On a trip to Tarsus on the Anatolian coast, Boniface converted to Christianity and was tortured and beheaded. Algae also converted to Christianity, gave all her possessions to the poor, and built a church for Boniface's relics.
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