The Punishment of the Arrogant Niobe by Diana and Apollo, ca. 1772
Pierre–Charles Jombert (French, 1748–1825)
Oil on canvas, mounted on board; 14 1/16 x 11 1/16 in. (35.7 x 28.1 cm)
Purchase, Van Day Truex Fund, 1983 (1983.426)
Jombert depicts the Greek mythological figure of Niobe, who boasted of her great fortune as the mother of seven daughters and seven sons with such hubris that it compelled the two deities Diana and Apollo to assail her children with arrows. In 1772, Jombert won first prize in the competition for the Prix de Rome for this oil sketch and for the larger finished painting. The preliminary phase of the contest depended on the artist's creation of an oil sketch. A jury from the Académie then chose a select few students to continue in the contest and complete a larger picture. Playing with the rich color and texture of oil paint, Jombert painted a dash of pink paint as a highlight on Niobe's cheek, with muted shadows across her neck.