A picture about loss.
Dido and Aeneas, the tragic love story of the Trojan hero and the Queen of Carthage is told by Virgil. Aeneas, after the sacking of Troy, was given the task by the Gods of founding a new civilisation in Italy, but on the way he met and fell in love with the Carthaginian Queen Dido. He dallied with her until he was reminded by the Gods (and his disgruntled crew) of his mission. He reluctantly sailed away leaving the broken hearted Queen on the beach. She surrounded herself with Aeneas’ gifts and possessions left behind in his haste, placed them on a pyre, then killed herself with his sword.
Turner painted Dido founding Carthage using a golden palette which has influenced me in this image, she was also painted by Guercino in a very theatrical setting, Rubens and others. However, I was more inspired by music: Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” and Dido’s mournful lament “When I am laid in earth”. Berlioz also composed a magnificent tragic opera “Les Troyens”, his very own labour of love that nearly bankrupted him through its ambitiousness, it was chopped about and mutilated; he never saw it performed in its entirety. Purcell who died young at 35, never saw his Dido performed profesionally in a theatre either. Apparently he caught a chill when his wife refused to open the door after a night on the tiles. A tragic loss to English music.