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BERENICE REPROACHING PTOLEMY.
Many kings of Egypt have borne the name of Ptolemy, and several queens of the same country that of Berénice. The artist has adopted the tradition which attributes to the wife of Ptolemy Evergetes the event represented in this picture. The observations which were made on it at the time of its exbibition, have not destroyed the probability of the conjectures upon which the opinion of the artist was founded.
Ptolemy was accustomed to amuse himself with dice while the sentences of those who were condemned lo death for capital crimes were read to him, in order that he might definitively pronounce upon their fate. Berenice, his wife, snatched the book from the hands of the reader, saying, with indignation, “ It is not thus, in playing, that you should decide upon the lives of mortals. Their destiny and the chances of the game are not of equal interest.” This severe reprimand was well received by Ptolemy, and induced him to abandon a custom that exposed him to commit the greatest injustice.
This picture, which was exhibited in the year 10, met with much eulogium, from the effect of the composition, the truth of expression, and the care with which the artist has executed the various parts of his work. It was
moreover remarked, that M. Taillasson, who combined with the talents of a painter acquirements in literature of a distinguished kind, has always contrived to increase the interest of his compositions by a moral object, and the singular merit of exciting reflection in the mind of the spectator,