The Last of the Valerii is a short story by Henry James first published in 1884.
An unnamed American painter resident in Rome serves as narrator in this story, watching as his god-daughter Martha, becomes the wife of Prince Marco Valerio.
The young bride is eager to use some of her American fortune in the service of archeology at the Villa Valerio, her husband's somewhat run down Roman house.
Archeology can be, her god-father suggests, a rather expensive hobby, but to his (and her) surprise, the dig brings to light a lovely marble statue of Juno. Martha is overjoyed, but it is soon clear that her husband is overcome by the discovery, and overcome in ways that are to be disquieting.
In this, as in several of James's stories, there are elements of the supernatural -- or so the reader might invited to believe. To what, in any case, will the discovery lead?
Henry James, OM (Order of Merit) (1843-1916) was an American-born writer, regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism.
He is best known for a number of novels showing Americans encountering Europe and Europeans. His method of writing from a character's point of view allowed him to explore issues related to consciousness and perception, and his style in later works has been compared to impressionist painting. His imaginative use of point of view, interior monologue and unreliable narrators brought a new depth to narrative fiction.
Henry James was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911, 1912, and 1916.