The J. Paul Getty Museum

Dido and Aeneas

Object Details


Dido and Aeneas


Nicolas Verkolye (Dutch, 1673 - 1746)




Netherlands (Place Created)


early 18th century


Oil on canvas

Object Number:



90.2 × 117.5 cm (35 1/2 × 46 1/4 in.)

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Object Description

The shipwrecked Trojan prince Aeneas, shown on the right, arrives at the court of Dido, the legendary queen and founder of Carthage. Hands upraised, Dido and members of her court react in surprise at the appearance of the splendidly uniformed warrior. Others point knowingly to Venus and Cupid, who appear in the upper corner. It was Cupid who made Dido fall hopelessly in love with Aeneas. Although not shown here, the episode will end sadly; prompted by Aeneas' inevitable departure, Dido commits suicide.

This densely packed theatrical scene is taken from Virgil's Aeneid. Nicolas Verkolye placed the figures in a stage-like setting with classically inspired architecture. Through light, shadow, and gesture, he dramatically relates the story of the ill-fated lovers.

- 1719

Possibly Jacob Van Hoek [sold, Hoek sale, Amsterdam, April 12, 1719, lot 3.]

- 1720

Possibly Hendrik Sorgh [sold, Sorgh sale, Amsterdam, March 28, 1720, lot 34.]

by 1810

Pierre-Joseph Lafontaine (Paris, France) [unsold, Chariot, Paris, January 17, 1810, lot 182; sold, Christie's, London, May 8, 1813, lot 62 as "Verkolje, 'Interview between Dido and Aeneas'" to General John Ramsay for £26.5.], An annotation in the Frick copy of the 1813 Christie's catalogue gives the approximate dimensions as 3 x 4 feet.

1813 - 1815

General John Ramsay, 1768 - 1845 (London, England) [sold, Christie's, London, June 2, 1815, lot 63, as Verkolje, "Dido at Carthage, an elegantly composed picture," for £9.9 to General Thomas Grosvenor.]

1815 -

General Thomas Grosvenor, British, 1764 - 1851

- 1969

Private Collection [sold, Christie's, London, July 24, 1969, lot 186, to Ira Spanierman.]

1969 -

Ira Spanierman (New York, New York)

- 1971

Private Collection [sold, Sotheby's, London, December 8, 1971, lot 93, to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]

Louis Style: French Frames from Louis XIII to Louis XVI, 1610-1792 (September 15, 2015 to January 3, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), September 15, 2015 to January 3, 2016