In this painting, the excited and gloomy atmosphere of the tableaux vivants, packed with people, gives way to a more intimate view, not without its guarded symbolic significance. The light of dawn has already tinted pink the tunic of the flabby emperor and the calm waters of the bay of Naples. In that city Nero performed in public for the first time to resounding success, and its coastal villas inspired the architects who designed the Domus Aurea for him.
At Baiae a dramatic event took place. Here Nero decided to kill his mother. His face is mournful, his gaze blank while he awaits the uncertain result of his infamous crime.
It is easy to see the parallel between the smoking Vesuvius and the despot’s gloomy pride, as he is licked by a languid tiger, synonymous of force and cruelty, yet eager to be caressed.




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