The Royal Hunt Of Dido and Aeneas by Francesco Solimena represents a moment from mythological story of Aeneas. The significant part of the story, the sequence of Aeneas and Dido is given much importance in Aeneid by Virgil as the whole love-affair led to some of the significant consequences in Italian history and Greek mythology. They both had a tragic love-story which from the start to end was a conspiracy set by gods. In a way, their love was the outcome of the enmity between goddesses, Venus and Juno.
|Painting Name||The Royal Hunt Of Dido And Aeneas|
|Painter Name||Francesco Solimena|
|Size||73.7 x 76.8 cm (29.02" x 30.24")|
|Current Location||Private collection|
When Aeneas – a Trojan War Hero – fled Troy with his comrades he wandered in Mediterranean Sea for years to find the right place to rest. Finally, he approached Carthage for the shelter which was ruled by the queen and the founder of the city – Dido. She was ruling single-handedly as her husband was killed by her brother.
On Aeneas’s approach at the city, to assure her son’s safety, Venus sent her another son, Cupid to interfere in the matter and make sure that Dido and Aeneas falls in love. And Cupid’s arrow works unmistakably on both of them. Venus was saving her son from the goddess Juno who had hatred for Troy and also for Aeneas as he was a Trojan.
The scene displayed in here by Francesco Solimena depicts the night when Aeneas and Dido made love in a cave and came out as official lovers and started living like that from that moment in Carthage.
The painting includes the indicating elements from which we can understand the whole instance. The goddess sitting on the upper spot surrounded by little cupids is the goddess Juno who wants to harm Aeneas. She is often described in paintings and sculptures with a peacock on her side –as described here.
On the day, when Aeneas and Dido went for hunting, she sent a ferocious storm upon them. We can see two angels on the upper right corner pouring water to earth as a symbolizing the storm. Other riders and soldiers of the troop are running here and there, but Dido and Aeneas have found a cave towards which the queen is pointing her finger.
Here comes the interference of the Love-goddess Venus. Instructed by her, the many incarnations of her son Cupid is invisibly surrounding them both making sure that they come out of the cave as true lovers.
Though, the intense love-affair lasted only one year as Venus again sent her another son to remind Aeneas about his true destiny, for which he left Carthage. Devastated by Aeneas’ separation Dido killed herself and before dying also declared Aeneas Carthage’s enemy. Carthage and Rome had three infamous Punic Wars due to her utterance before dying.
Mythology aside, the painting consist a fine taste of chiaroscuro, which is a style made famous by contemporary artist, Caravaggio. This oil on canvas painting with size around 30 by 30 inches is resting in private collection, silently boasting about the Roman mythology and height of renaissance art altogether.