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Liberale da Verona, Dido's Suicide

Key facts
Full title Dido's Suicide
Artist Liberale da Verona
Artist dates about 1445 - 1527/9
Date made early 16th century
Medium and support Oil on poplar
Dimensions 42.5 × 123.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1891
Inventory number NG1336
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Dido's Suicide
Liberale da Verona

Abandoned by her lover, the Trojan hero Aeneas, the devastated Dido, Queen of Carthage, stands on a pyre composed of his armour and his gifts to her. She is about to plunge a knife into her breast, watched from the arcades and balconies around the square by her subjects.

This panel’s dimensions suggest that it came from a spalliere, a painting set into the panelling of a room, rather than a cassone (a large chest) as has long been thought. Both often showed tales from classical poetry or history, many illustrating the consequences of good and bad behaviour for husbands and wives. Dido was seen as a warning against uncontrolled female sexuality: in Dante’s Inferno, she was condemned to hell for her consuming passion for Aeneas.

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