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The Rape of the Sabines

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Italy (engraved)

  • Date:

    c.1575-1650 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    da Caravaggio, Polidoro (painter)
    Alberti, Cherubino, born 1553 - died 1615 (engraver)

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case I, shelf 2, box B

A reversed copy of Cherubino Alberti's engraving depicting the Rape of the Sabine Women. Within the period between 1570 and 1615, Alberti produced a series of prints which formed a frieze, and detailed the events surrounding the Rape of the Sabines. Alberti based his engravings on the paintings produced by Polidoro da Caravaggio for the Palazzo Ricci in Rome.

This particular print from the series depicts the Rape of the Sabine Women, an episode of Roman history dated to around 750 BC. The episode witnesses the first generation of Roman men acquiring wives from the neighbouring Sabine families, as ordered by Romulus, the founder of Rome. Whilst the English word rape is derived from the Latin 'rapito', the Roman episode is not one of sexual violation. In its Latin context, 'rapito' actually means ‘abduction’.

Physical description

A reversed copy of Alberti's engraving of the Rape of the Sabine Women.

Place of Origin

Italy (engraved)


c.1575-1650 (made)


da Caravaggio, Polidoro (painter)
Alberti, Cherubino, born 1553 - died 1615 (engraver)

Marks and inscriptions

Romulidae spreti ludi connubia quaerunt / Dum cadit in quasuis rapta Sabina manus
Inscribed within cartouche below image

Cum privilego. Sumi Pontificis
Inscribed to lower right within cartouche below image

Inscribed within cartouche below image


Height: 162 mm Sheet, Width: 251 mm Sheet, Height: 153 mm Plate, Width: 242 mm Plate, Height: 153 mm Image, Width: 219 mm Image

Descriptive line

A reverse copy by an anonymous printmaker of Cherubino Alberti's engraving after Polidoro da Caravaggio.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

von Bartsch, Adam, 'Le Peintre Graveur', Vol. 17, 1803.


Laid paper


Copper engraving




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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