Appears in exhibition catalog as entry no. 83 (Sale info: For Sale).
In regard to this great picture, the Rev. Dr. Morton remarks: . . . The subject selected by Mr. Rothermel is "The Exposure of Christians in the Roman Amphitheatre." The painter, however, has not followed the common method of treating this fearful theme. He has not introduced the spectator into the midst of the bloody horrors of the arena. . . . Mr. Rothermel has selected a nobler theme and a more arduous task. He has chosen the human aspect of the scene, and presented us with a series of groups, . . . preparatory to their exposure to the wild beasts within. A glimpse, indeed, of the horrible carnival of slaughter is allowed. . . . We can see the richness and harmony of the coloring, the boldness and accuracy of the drawing, the skillful grouping, the artistic management of light and shade, but it is the great thought of the picture which we feel when we stand before it. And that thought, . . . unfolds itself in such words as these: Alas! what agonies "man's inhumanity to man" has sent down upon this poor earth of ours! . . . And yet how nobly faith triumphs over all, as in that silent, half inspired saint who is standing there--in that aged woman kneeling and praying there! And how does hope find an emblem of future rest for all in that clear blue patch of sky, which speaks out pure and liquid above the the dusty tumult of the arena's contest. [Pp. 12-13; excerpted from a detailed description of the work.]
Catalogue of the Pittsburgh Art Association. All pictures owned by artists are for sale. Winter Exhibition, 1870-71. Pittsburgh: Printed by Urben, Buettler & Co., 40 1/2 Fifth Avenue. 1871.