clt3378paintingessay

clt3378paintingessay - Henry 1 Joseph Henry CLT3788 Dr Rupp...

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Henry 1 -1 Joseph Henry CLT3788 Dr. Rupp October 9, 2007 Vergil, Bourdon, and the Death of a Queen Some of the most violent and beautiful imagery of all of Vergil’s Aeneid can be found in Book IV of his masterpiece. Vergil’s text manages to take unbridled passion, insurmountable tragedy, and divine intervention and harness these otherwise uncontainable notions in mere words. The climax of this book sees the death of Dido, queen of Carthage and lover of Aeneas. Having found out Aeneas’s plan to leave her in secret in order to pursue Italy, Dido confronts Aeneas and is crushed to hear of his plans to put his fated kingdom over his love for her. She in turn commissions her sister, Anna, to erect a pyre in order to curse Aeneas, although Dido is really having her sister build what will become her funeral pyre. Scorned and enraged beyond reasoning, Dido impales herself on Aeneas’s sword, devastating her beloved sister. No longer able to see her favored Dido in pain, Juno sends down Iris to put her out of her misery, and Vergil ironically here writes perhaps the most beautiful part of his text amid such unparalleled anguish and pain. In this same way, Sebastien Bourdon also blends pain with beauty to capture the death of Dido in his painting, while also adding touches of his own. This late 1630s work, entitled Death of Dido , truly matches in art what Vergil offers in eloquence. Indeed, Bourdon’s painting is a striking work that portrays Dido, Anna, and Iris in such a way so as to both preserve and reinterpret Vergil’s text in the Aeneid . Bourdon expertly captures what he believes to be the essence of Dido’s anguish in his work while still remaining true to Vergil’s text. Dido here is presented with a healthily plump
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Henry 2 physique and extremely light skin, characteristics that were regarded both in Vergil’s and Bourdon’s times as signs of nobility. Vergil relates that “having caught sight of the Trojan clothing and familiar couch” 1 she “reclined on the couch” 2 , and in Bourdon’s painting, a red
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