Antonio Campi, Mucius Scaevola

Artist | Antonio Campi (ca. 1522–1587)  
Title | Gaius Mucius Scaevola thrusting his right Hand into the Fire 
Date | 1547–1580  
Medium | Woodcut on blue paper 
Dimensions | 140 x 120 mm  
Institution | Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 
Credit line | Bequeathed by Francis Douce, 1834, © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford 
Theme | Antiquity, Mythology, and Allegory 
Museum number | WA1863.4003 

Antonio Campi (ca. 1523–1587) was the second son of the artist Galeazzo Campi (1475/1477–1536). The Campi were a family of painters from the town Cremona in Lombardy, northern Italy. This work represents the story of Mucius Scaevola and exists in multiple impressions, several of which are on blue paper. The use of blue paper by an artist from Cremona shows the influence of Venetian blue paper beyond Venice’s borders. The ancient story, reported for instance by Livy (64/59 BC–AD 12/17), tells how Mucius attempted to kill the Etruscan king Porsenna. He was captured and was only released because he demonstrated his steadfastness by voluntarily placing his right hand in fire. After Mucius’ return to Rome, he was called ‘Scaevola’, ‘left hand’. His virtue became a positive example for the attitude of Renaissance individuals.