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This subject comes from the Roman poet Virgil’s epic poem the Aeneid. As Troy is invaded by the Greeks, the hero Aeneas escapes with his young son Ascanius. He carries his elderly father Anchises, but his wife Creusa will be lost; here, Gibbs shows her being attacked by a Greek soldier.

For many Britons this scene of war, destruction, and desperate families being split up, would have echoed the recent civil war. It is the only known work signed by a Kentish gentleman called Henry Gibbs. Narrative paintings by British-born artists of this period are extremely rare.

July 2008