Skip to main content
Key facts
Full title Dido building Carthage, or The Rise of the Carthaginian Empire
Artist Joseph Mallord William Turner
Artist dates 1775 - 1851
Date made 1815
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 155.5 x 230 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Turner Bequest, 1856
Inventory number NG498
Location Room 36
Art route(s) C
Collection Main Collection
Dido building Carthage
Joseph Mallord William Turner
/

Turner’s painting of the North African city of Carthage, founded by Dido, its first queen, was inspired by Virgil’s epic poem, the Aeneid. The figure on the left dressed in blue and wearing a diadem is Dido herself, visiting the tomb that is being built for her dead husband, Sychaeus. The man in a cloak and helmet standing before her is probably Aeneas, the hero of the poem, with whom she will fall in love. Turner painted ten major paintings on the subject of Carthaginian empire. The story of the rise and fall of empires was a theme that preoccupied him throughout his life.

This is the first of Turner’s paintings in which he set out to match the seventeenth-century French landscape painter, Claude, in particular Claude’s Seaport paintings. In his will, Turner specified that Dido building Carthage, together with his Sun Rising through Vapour, should be hung in the National Gallery alongside two of Claude’s paintings.

Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

License this image

License and download a high-resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low-resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Download low-resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo