Catalogue entry

431. [N00555] The Visit to the Tomb Exh. 1850

THE TATE GALLERY, LONDON (555)

Canvas, 36 × 48 (91·5 × 122)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (32, ‘The visit to the Tomb’ 4'0" × 3'0"); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1905.

Exh. R.A. 1850 (373); Whitechapel 1953 (101); Edinburgh 1968 (24, repr.).

Lit. Thornbury 1862, i, p. 349; 1877, p. 467; Hamerton 1879, pp. 297–8; Bell 1901, p. 159 no. 267; Armstrong 1902, p. 236; MacColl 1920, p. 26; Davies 1946, pp. 152–3, 186; Finberg 1961, pp. 427, 511 no. 588; Rothenstein and Butlin 1964, p. 73, pl. 127; Ziff 1964, pp. 24–7, pl. 2; Lindsay 19662, pp. 52–3; Gage 1969, pp. 98, 187, 244 n. 105; Reynolds 1969, pp. 204–5, pl. 176; Herrmann 1975, pp. 55, pl. 182; Fehl 1976, p. 129, pl. 22; Wilton 1979, pp. 233, 244.

Exhibited in 1850 with the line:

‘The sun went down in wrath at such deceit.’

MS., Fallacies of Hope.

Jerrold Ziff has pointed out that Turner probably took this incident from Dryden's translation of Ovid's Epistles: Dido to Æneas.

The Times for 4 May 1850 asked ‘what tomb?’ and indeed there is no description of such a visit in Virgil, though Dido does take Æneas to see how the building of Carthage is progressing. The reference is presumably to the tomb of Dido's husband, Sychaeus, in whose memory she tried to control her love for Æneas; Turner had shown the tomb in his picture of Dido building Carthage, exhibited in 1815 (see No. 131 [N00498]). The two figures of Dido and Æneas, on the left, are accompanied by Cupid, substituting for Ascanius as in No. 429 [N00553]. For contemporary reviews of this picture see No. 429 [N00553].

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984