Joseph Mallord William Turner
The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire ... exhibited 1817

Artwork details

The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire ...
Date Exhibited 1817
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 1702 x 2388 mm
frame: 2150 x 2840 x 200mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
On display at Tate Britain

Display caption

Claude Lorrain was Turner's favourite old master painter. This is one of his greatest essays in Claude's style. It is part of a pair of paintings showing the rise and fall of a great empire; here, Carthage's decline is symbolised by the setting sun.

Turner saw the rise and fall of once-great empires as a historical inevitability, confirmed by the fall of Napoleon, but threatening to overtake the victorious British. Today, the other half of the pair Dido building Carthage; or the Rise of the Carthaginian Empire hangs, at Turner's request, alongside a painting by Claude in the National Gallery.

September 2004

About this artwork