Faithful unto Death
Sir Edward John Poynter, PRA RWS
Oil on canvas
61 x 29 3/4 inches
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
This painting derives from the following passage in Edward Bulwer-Lytton's The Last Days of Pompeii: "
"The air was now still for a few minutes: the lamp from the gate streamed out far and clear: the fugitives hurried on—they gained the gate—they passed by the Roman sentry; the lightning flashed over his livid face and polished helmet, but his stern features were composed even in their awe! He remained erect and motionless at his post. That hour itself had not animated the machine of the ruthless majesty of Rome into the reasoning and self-acting man. There he stood, amidst the crashing elements: he had not received the permission to desert his station and escape." [Book V, Chapter VI. The author appended to this paragraph the following footnote: "The skeletons of more than one sentry were found at their posts."] — George P. Landow