'Atossa's Dream'

Two female figures stand over a male figure on the ground

When the Greek scholar Rev. Robert Potter sat for his portrait to Romney in the summer of 1778, he suggested to the artist this subject from Aeschylus's tragedy The Persians, which he had just translated. Atossa, the widow of the Persian King Darius, sees the death of their son Xerxes in a dream. The allegorical figure of Greece on the left, the agent of Xerxes's destruction, was particularly admired by the sculptor John Flaxman, who wrote of this cartoon that it was "conducted with the fire and severity of a Greek bas-relief".