Thomas Jones

Landscape with Dido and Aeneas

Landscape with Dido and Aeneas
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Author: Thomas Jones
Landscape, Painting, Oil on canvas, 137.5x193.5 cm
Origin: Britain, 1769

Jones himself wrote of this picture: "This was one of the best pictures I ever painted." The Welsh landscape artist here produced a marvellous example of the Classical landscape, in which nature is presented in generalized, idealized form, although behind the image lie the artist's impressions from nature itself. The landscape is carefully constructed: the powerful trees, bent by gusts of wind, form a frame which helps to create the impression of depth. Space is clearly divided into three planes, the artist used both light and colour to divide the different spacial zones. Rays of sunlight pierce through the clouds and light up the distant Carthage; the middle plane with its figures of riders and a shepherd are set in deep darkness; but in the foreground the sun lights up the Queen of Carthage, Dido, and Aeneas - Trojan hero of Virgil's Aeneid - whose red cloak is the brightest spot in the painting. According to Virgil, Dido and Aeneas were forced to take shelter from a storm in a cave, where they became lovers. Later, on the instructions of Jupiter, Aeneas was to leave Dido, who built herself a funeral pyre onto which she threw herself in her grief. The figures were the work of John Hamilton Mortimer.

Personage: Aeneas
Style: Neo-Classicism
Source of entry: Collection of Prince G.A. Potyomkin, St Petersburg, 1792
Theme: Religion and Mythology of Antiquity

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