Dido and Aeneas by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851). Exhibited 1814 . Oil on canvas, 1460 x 2372 mm. Courtesy of Tate Britain (Accession no. NO0494. Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856.) Click on image to enlarge it.

Commentary from Tate Britain Online (2004)

Exhibited in 1814 with the following lines:

‘When next the sun his rising light displays,
And gilds the world below with purple rays,
The Queen, Æneas, and the Tyrian Court,
Shall to the shady woods for sylvan games resort.’ — 4th Book of Dryden's Æneis.

This story comes from Virgil’s Latin poem The Aeneid. Aeneas was a Prince who fled Troy at the end of the Trojan War and was shipwrecked in Carthage, on the coast of North Africa. Here he fell in love with the Queen, Dido. Although he been told it was his destiny to become the founder of Rome, his love for Dido made him delay his final journey to Italy. Here Turner shows the blossoming of their love, as they set out to go hunting in the woods. When Aeneas finally left Carthage the heartbroken Dido killed herself.

See Tate Britain Online for full catalogue entry, including provenance, exhibition history, critical reception, and bibliography.

Last modified 16 May 2016