OIL PAINTING: Faithful unto Death. (Christianes ad Leones!), 1888
In order to authenticate the horror of the episode presented in Faithful unto Death, the Schmalz attached a quotation from an unidentified source to the stretcher of his canvas:
"The sect who were first called Christians at Antioch had that day born good witness to their faith, in Rome. There in the fierce glare of the Arena, waiting for the end. Waiting, under the pitiless eyes of a blood thirsty multitude, from Senator and Patrician dame, to low baffoone parisite. Waiting, till fear becomes hope, and shame grows shameless before the promise of Death!"
The scene is staged in a Roman amphitheatre, perhaps the Circus Maximus as suggested by the grooves of chariot wheels in the sand, during the time of Nero's persecution of Christians. As a testimony to the Emperor's reputed taste for spectacular executions, Schmalz presents a group of young female martyrs of mixed racial origin tied to herms festooned with flowers and grapes in honor of Bacchus as they await the onslaught of lions lurking behind a gate in the distance. Schmalz was clearly influenced by Gerome in both his choice of subject-matter (the line of dejected women recalls the French painter's notorious slave markets), and panoramic viewpoint: the focus on both victims and crowd, together with details such as the bronze biga and wheel marks, were probably adapted from Gerome's famous The Christian Martyr's Last Prayer of 1863-83, which Schmalz would have known.