Dido building Carthage, or The Rise of the Carthaginian Empire
J. M. W. Turner, Dido building Carthage, or The Rise of the Carthaginian Empire
is an oil on canvas painting by J. M. W. Turner
. The painting is one of Turner's most important works, greatly influenced by the luminous classical landscapes of Claude Lorraine
. Turner described it as his chef d'oeuvre
. First exhibited at the Royal Academy summer exhibition
in 1815, Turner kept the painting until he left it to the nation in the Turner Bequest
. It has been held by the National Gallery
in London since 1856.
The subject is a classical landscape taken from Virgil
. The figure in blue and white on the left is Dido
, directing the builders of the new city of Carthage
. The figure in front of her, wearing armour and facing away from the viewer, may be her Trojan
. Some children are playing with a flimsy toy boat in the water, symbolising the growing but fragile naval power of Carthage, while the tomb of her dead husband Sychaeus
, on the right side of the painting, on the other bank of the estuary, foreshadows the eventual doom of Carthage. Read more...