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Charles-Amédée-Philippe Van Loo (Turin 1719-1795 Paris)
Charles-Amédée-Philippe Van Loo (Turin 1719-1795 Paris)

Dido's banquet

Details
Charles-Amédée-Philippe Van Loo (Turin 1719-1795 Paris)
Dido's banquet
oil on unlined canvas
26 x 32¼in. (66 x 82cm.)
Provenance
Laubreaux; (+) his sale, Rémy, Paris, 8-9 June 1857, lot 33.
Lafont; his sale, March 1864, lot 438, as Lebrun.

Lot Essay

Charles-Amédée-Philippe Van Loo was the third son of the painter Jean-Baptiste Van Loo and the younger brother of Louis-Michel Van Loo. After spending some time in Rome and Paris, Van Loo was offered a position as painter to Frederic II, King of Prussia and in 1748 moved to Berlin, where he executed paintings for the chateaux at Potsdam and Sans-Souci. He later returned to Paris and exhibited works at the Salon from 1761 until 1785.

The present painting could be the modello for a larger composition executed in 1750 for the Palace of Prince Henri in Berlin (paid 500 Thalers; Ch. Oulmont, 'Amédée Van Loo, peintre du roi de Prusse' in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1912, p. 144) and today in the Konfidenztafelzimmer at the Potsdamer Stadtschloss (fig. 1).

The subject, Dido's banquet, is taken from Virgil's Aeneid, (I: 657-722). After the sack of Troy by the Greeks, Aeneas and his companions (protected by the goddess Venus) escaped by sea. After many adventures they reached Latium in Italy where they settled. During their journey Venus appeared to Aeneas and directed him towards the palace of Dido, the Queen of Carthage. To foil any plan Juno (the protectress of Carthage) might have had to create enmity between the Trojans and the Carthaginians, Venus caused Dido to fall passionately in love with Aeneas. She sent Cupid, disguised as Aeneas' son, to pay his respects to the queen at the banquet she was holding in honor of the Trojans. As Dido embraced Cupid, he worked a magic charm and her unquenchable passion for Aeneas was kindled. The affair ended in tragedy as Dido, who was unable to persuade Aeneas to stay, killed herself on a pyre.
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