NARRATOR: A glowing sun sets over a harbour, its rays filtering upwards to the clouds above. Turner meant this sunset to be understood in symbolic terms because his subject here is the Decline of the Carthaginian Empire, a once-great civilization defeated by Rome. DAVID BLAYNEY BROWN: Turner was an extraordinarily ambitious artist and one aspect of that ambition was to pit himself against the competition; and that might mean important contemporary artists who he saw as rivals, but also great painters of the past. NARRATOR: Curator David Blayney Brown. DAVID BLAYNEY BROWN: One of the most potent relationships that he had with an Old Master, with an artist of the past, was with the French seventeenth century painter Claude Lorrain who was a painter of ideal, antique, classicising landscapes and port scenes. This painting of the decline of the Carthaginian Empire was one of those competition pieces. It was one of a pair, the other being ‘The Rise of Carthage’ which is actually in the National Gallery. It’s a sunset picture, whereas, as one can imagine, ‘The Rise of Carthage’ is a dawn, sunrise work. And here we see the ancient city of Carthage in North Africa really coming to the end of its life. It hasn’t yet fallen into ruin but there’s this sense that the sun is sinking, that evening is coming and night will fall, and the end of Carthage is in sight.