Numa Pompilius became the second king of Rome after the death of Romulus. He reigned wisely for 43 years, dying in 672 BC. He frequently visited the nymph Egeria at Ariccia in the Alban hills to seek her guidance on the governance of the city. In this painting he is consulting her on religious matters, as the only legible words on the tablet are 'Metus Deorum' (fear of the gods) and 'Virgines Vestae' (Virgins of the Vesta). According to the writings of Ovid, Egeria married Numa Pompilius. Upon his death she melted into tears and was changed into a fountain by the goddess Diana. This painting was most likely shown at the 1791 Salon under the title Numa Pompilius Consultant la Nymphe Egerie, no. 776. The artist is also known as Naigeon l'aîné and was a pupil of Devosge at the Dijon Académie, and of David.
Where to see this painting?
The Bowes Museum
Barnard Castle, County Durham, England, DL12 8NP
If you are planning a visit to see this painting, check with the collection first. Paintings can be moved at short notice.