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The Dream of Aeneas

Salvator Rosa chooses a straightforward retelling of the story of Aeneas for one of his last major etchings. Based on a specific passage from Virgil’s Aeneid (8, 26–34), it depicts the great Trojan military hero, not in action, but asleep on his shield. Fleeing to Italy after the fall of Troy, Aeneas received a prophecy from the river god Tiber that he would found the city of Rome nearby. The subject is unique to Rosa’s work and offers a rare instance of a minor river deity playing an active role.

Rosa adds drama and mystery to the peaceful scene through the god’s sweeping gesture and flowing drapery, the asymmetrical diagonals of the composition, and the feathery tonality of the etched line.

Salvator Rosa
Italian, 1615–1673
The Dream of Aeneas
ca. 1663–64
Etching and drypoint on paper
Sheet: 13 ¾ x 9 3/8 in. (34.9 x 23.8 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Collection of Diether Thimme, 98.297