Aeneas Leaving Carthage
- Peter Churcher
- Aeneas Leaving Carthage
- oil on canvas
- 137 x 122 cm
signed lower left: P Churcher '98
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Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, 1998
private collection, Melbourne
Peter Churcher, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art,8 - 29 May 1999, cat. no. 1
Whilst in Carthage, the Hero of the Aeneid, Aeneas, engages in a passionate love affair with the Queen Dido. Fate demands Aeneas continue his journey and see out his destiny to found Rome. Dido wishes Aeneas ignore this destiny and stay put, Aeneas refuses. As Aeneas sets off in his ships, the tragic Dido climbs a huge funeral pyre and puts herself to death. The pyre is set alight. Virgil describes this point as Aeneas turns around to look at the burning pyre he is leaving behind.
"Cutting through waves blown dark by a chill wind
Aeneas held his ships firmly on course
For a mid sea crossing. But he kept his eyes
Upon the city for astern, now bright
With poor Elissa's [Dido] pyre. What caused that blaze
Remained unknown to watchers out at sea,
But what they knew of great love profaned
In anguish, and a desperate woman's nerve,
Led every Trojan heart into foreboding.
Virgil, The Aeneid, Book V
Many of the paintings from Churcher's 1999 exhibition at Lauraine Diggins Fine Art are based on tales from the classical writings of Ovid, Virgil and Homer. "What is of particular interest to me is the poignant attention to the human condition - in particular - the male condition. Hope, ambition and aspiration are explored in these classical writings through the personal journeys of key male 'heroes'. These personal journeys are inexorably shaped and driven by fate - a force which we ultimately must recognise and, often unwillingly, accept." Peter Churcher, 1999