Tischbein the Elder, known as the Kasseler Tischbein, was one of the most respected European painters in the 18th Century and the most important member of the four generations of Tischbeins. He is known mainly for his portraits of the nobility, mythological scenes and historical paintings.
The story of Dido and Aenaes is from Virgil's Aeneid, Book 1:
Jupiter sends Mercury, the messenger god, to Carthage to put the Carthaginians and their Queen, Dido, in a mood to receive the Trojans favourably. The next morning, Aeneas sets out with his companion Achatës to explore the region. They meet Venus, who, disguised as a Carthaginian huntress, tells them that they are near Carthage, a city founded by Dido, who fled with her followers from the Phoenician city of Tyre after her evil brother, Pygmalion, murdered her husband, Sychaeus. Advising Aeneas to go to Dido's palace, Venus assures her son that the missing ships and his comrades are safe. As she turns away, Aeneas recognizes her as his mother and reproaches her for always appearing to him in disguise. Enveloped now in a cloud that Venus has thrown over them to make them invisible, Aeneas and Achatës observe the people of Carthage at their various tasks. They come at last to a grove, where they find a great temple built to honour Juno. Entering the temple, they see that its walls are covered with decorative panels that depict scenes from the Trojan War, which fill Aeneas with sorrow. As Aeneas inspects the murals more closely, Dido and her attendants enter the temple. A woman of great beauty and majesty, she seats herself on her throne and holds court. To Aeneas and Achatës' joy and amazement, the men from the missing Trojan ships enter the temple and are received hospitably by the Queen, who listens sympathetically as they explain who they are and what has happened to them. At this point, the cloud that shrouds Aeneas and Achatës vanishes, and they are reunited with their companions.
See front cover illustration for detail