This large, bold drawing was part of David’s preparatory work for The Intervention of the Sabine Women. In the legendary origin story of ancient Rome, the city’s founder Romulus and his men abducted women from the neighboring Sabine tribe, forcing them into marriage. When the vengeful Sabines declared war on the Romans, Romulus’s wife and the other Sabine women threw themselves and their infants between the two armies and successfully stopped a war. David conceived of the painting while in prison for his active involvement in the French Revolution and allegiance to Maximilien Robespierre, one of its principal leaders. The subject allowed him to deliver a powerful postrevolutionary message of political and familial reconciliation.