Mercury Sent to Admonish Aeneas by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851). Exhibited 1850. Oil on canvas, 902 x 1206 mm. Courtesy of Tate Britain (Accession no. NO0553. Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856.) Click on image to enlarge it.

Commentary from Tate Britain Online (2004)

The first of four pictures telling the story of Aeneas's stay at Carthage, delayed from his destiny in Italy by his love for Dido, which were Turner's last exhibits at the Royal Academy, and of which three now survive. They are his final reconsiderations of the classic style of Claude. Here, Aeneas stands on the left in his cloak of Tyrian purple, attended by Cupid. Mercury, who according to Turner's accompanying lines from his manuscript poem Fallacies of Hope 'waited to tell him of his neglected fleet' is not discernible, having perhaps melted into thin air as Virgil's story describes.

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

Last modified 16 May 2016