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The Death of Camilla by Bob Thompson is a tribute to a long forgotten warrior from Virgil’s "Aeneid."

In the story, Camilla is a warrior who is betrayed and killed by a cowardly man. Camilla of the Volsci tribe was known for her speed, trained to endure the rigors of war, and a savage protector of her homeland, pre-Roman Italy. In "Aeneid," Camilla was raised by her father to be an unmarried warrior - a path entirely uncommon for a woman in ancient society. She dominates the final section of the book and, although she is killed, brings a specific tenacity to the story as she leads her cavalry into the bloodiest battle of the poem. Thompson, in turn, has taken this legend and created his own narration of the events depicted, using bright colors and a fantastical landscape that breathes new life into a centuries-old epic.

Thompson was known for his adaptations of Renaissance classics that included an explosion of saturated colors with a specific focus on story-telling through abstracted figures. The Death of Camilla is an example of the artist’s dedication to narration focused on subject matter from the distant past, as opposed to the singular focus on color and form that was more common among his abstract expressionist peers. His unique style infusing figuration with explosive color, not dissimilar to the work of the Fauvists, was revolutionary when compared to the minimalist trends of the 1960s. 

Death of Camilla also continues Thompson’s exploration of his uniquely personal symbolism. For instance, birds are a common trope in his paintings, and it has been suggested that they represent the human spirit. In this work, the birds are held aloft by the warriors, denied the freedom of flight and instead used as weapons of violence, perhaps pointing to the sacrifice made by Camilla's army.