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The obscure iconography of Dosso's canvas has caused much speculation. In the past it has been titled simply Scene from a Legend and, more often, Departure of the Argonauts. The present title refers instead to an event in Virgil's Aeneid. Designed to celebrate the origin and growth of the Roman Empire, the Aeneid tells the story of Aeneas, who after the fall of Troy and seven years wandering, founded a settlement on the Italian peninsula, establishing the Roman state. The story of Aeneas and Achates is taken from Book I of the Aeneid, where Aeneas and his faithful companion Achates, their journey just begun, take refuge on the Libyan coast after their ships are wrecked in a storm.

Two other surviving scenes from the Aeneid by Dosso have been located, one in England, the other in Canada, and along with the Washington canvas have been identified as part of a frieze of ten pictures painted by the artist for the camerino, or study of Alfonso d'Este in his castle at Ferrara. Dosso Dossi was greatly influenced by Venetian art, especially the use of color and treatment of landscape as seen in works by Titian and Giorgione. He was perhaps best known in his time for soft, feathery landscapes and scenes of everyday life that are nevertheless infused with a touch of fantasy.


Commissioned by 1520/21 by Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara [1476–1534] for the Camerino d’Alabastro of the Castello Estense in Ferrara;[1] by inheritance to his son, Ercole II d’Este, Duke of Ferrara [1534–1559]; by inheritance to his son Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara [1533–1597];[2] removed as early as 1608 from the Camerino d'Alabastro, when acquired by Cardinal Scipione Borghese [1577–1633], Rome;[3] by inheritance to his cousin Marcantonio II Borghese [1601-1658], 1st Prince of Sulmona, Rome; by inheritance to his grandson Giovanni Battista Borghese [1639–1717], 2nd Prince of Sulmona, Rome;[4] probably by descent to Camillo Filippo Ludovico Borghese [1775-1832], 6th Prince of Sulmona, Rome;[5] José de Madrazo y Agudo [1781–1859], Madrid, certainly by 1847, but probably acquired between 1803 and 1819;[6] possibly by inheritance to Federico Madrazo y Kuntz (1815-1894), Madrid; purchased probably 1861 by José de Salamanca y Mayol (1811-1883), Marqués of Salamanca, Madrid.[7] Hans Wendland, Basel; sold 1925 to (Kunsthandel AG, Lucerne); sold 1927 through (Julius Böhler, Munich and Luzerne) to (Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi [1878–1955], Florence and Rome);[8] sold 1936 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[9] gift 1939 to NGA.

Exhibition History

Pitture Ferrarese del Rinascimento, Ferrara, 1933, no. 198, repro.
Masterpieces of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture from 1300-1800, New York World's Fair, 1939, no. 83, as Departure of the Argonauts, repro.
Obras Maestras de la National Gallery of Art de Washington, Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City, 1996-1997, unnumbered catalogue, 58-59, color repro.
Dosso Dossi: Court Painter in Renaissance Ferrara, Exhibit Halls, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 1998-1999, no. 19, repro.
Dosso Dossi: The Aeneas Frieze, Rome, Galleria Borghese, no. 5 (together with 2021.6.1), repro.


Catalogo de la galeria de Cuadros de la posesion de Vista-Alegre, de propriedad del Ezcmo. Sr. Marques de Salamanca. Madrid, 1865: 25, no. 77.
Longhi, Roberto. "Una Favola del Dosso." Vita Artistica 2 (May 1927): 92-95, repro. color plate, figs.1-3 (det.), as La partenza degli Argonauti (departure of the Argonauts).
Barbantini, Nino. Catalogo della esposizione della Pittura Ferrarese del Rinascimento. Exh. cat. Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara. Venice, 1933: 162-163.
Venturi, Adolfo. "L'esposizione della pittura ferrarese del Rinascimento per il Cenenario Ariostesco." L'Arte 36 (1933): 386.
Longhi, Roberto. Officina Ferrarese. Rome, 1934. Reprinted in Edizione delle opere complete di Roberto Longhi. 14 vols. Florence, 1961-1984: 5(1956):86.
Buscaroli, Renzo. La Pittura di Paesaggio in Italia. Bologna, 1935: 216.
Suida, Wilhelm. "Die Sammlung Kress: New York." Pantheon 26 (1940): 280.
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 58, no. 361, as Scene from a Legend.
Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 246, repro., as Scene from a Legend.
Tietze-Conrat, Erika. "Two Dosso Puzzles in Washington and New York." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 33 (1948): 129-136.
Suida, Wilhelm. "Lucrezia Borgia: In Memoriam." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 35 (1949): 284.
Gilbert, Creighton. "On Subject and Not-subject in Italian Renaissance Pictures." The Art Bulletin 34 (1952): 205.
Longhi, Roberto. Officina ferrarese (1934), seguíta dagli Ampliamenti (1940) e dai Nuovi ampliamenti (1940-1955). Florence, 1956: 86.
Arslan, Edoardo. “Una Natività di Dosso Dossi.” Commentari 8 (1957): 260.
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 169, repro., as Scene from a Legend.
Antonelli Trenti, Maria Grazia. "Notizie e precisazioni sul Dosso giovane." Arte Antica e Moderna 28 (1964): 410.
Dreyer, Peter. "Die Entwicklung des jungen Dosso. Ein Beitrag zur Chronologie des Meisters biz zum Jahre 1522." Pantheon n.s. 22 (1964): 363.
Pergola, Paola Della. "L'Inventario Borghese del 1693 (II)." Arte Antica e Moderna 28 (1964): 452, no. 192.
Dreyer, Peter. "Die Entwicklung des jungen Dosso. Ein Beitrag zur Chronologie des Meisters bis zum Jahre 1522." Pantheon 23 (1965): 24.
Mezzetti, Amalia. "Le 'Storie di Enea' del Dosso nel 'camerino d'alabastro' di Alfonso I d'Este." Paragone 189-190 (1965): 71-84.
Puppi, Lionello. Dosso Dossi. I Maestri di Colore 78. Milan, 1965.
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 43, as Scene from a Legend.
Vasari, Giorgio. Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori nelle redazioni del 1550 e 1568. Ed. Rosanna Bettarini and Paola Barocchi. 8 vols. Florence, 1966-1987: 6(1987):158.
Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Central Italian and North Italian Schools. 3 vols. London, 1968: 1:114, as Departure of the Argonauts.
Gibbons, Felton. Dosso and Battista Dossi: Court Painters at Ferrara. Princeton, 1968: 91, 114, 123-124, 214-215.
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 36, repro., as Scene from a Legend.
Puppi, Lionello. "A Monograph on Dosso Dossi." The Burlington Magazine 110 (1968): 360.
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XV-XVI Century. London, 1968: 73-74, fig. 183.
Freedberg, Sydney J. Painting in Italy 1500-1600. Harmondsworth, 1971, rev. ed. 1975: 316.
Hope, Charles. "The 'Camerini d'Alabastro' of Alfonso d'Este." The Burlington Magazine 113 (1971): 643, n. 19.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 110, repro.
Goodgal, Dana. "The Camerino of Alfonso I d'Este." Art History 1 (1978): 170-173.
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: 1:164-166; 2:pl. 115.
Kaplan, Paul. "Titian's Laura Dianti and the Origins of the Motif of the Black Page in Portraiture." Antichità viva 21 (1982): 13.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 133, repro.
Humfrey, Peter. "Dosso Dossi." In The Age of Correggio and the Carracci: Emilian Painting of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Exh. cat. Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1986: 114-115.
Brown, Beverly L. "On the Camerino." In Görel Cavalli-Björkman, ed. Bacchanals by Titian and Rubens: Papers given at a Symposium in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, March 18-19, 1987. Stockholm, 1987: 47-49.
Cavalli-Björkman, Görel. "Camerino d’Alabastro: A Renaissance Room in Ferrara." Nationalmuseum Bulletin 11 (1987): 75, 89.
Laskin, Myron, and Michael Pantazzi, eds. European and American Painting, Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Vol. 1: 1300-1800. Catalogue of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Ottawa, 1987: 94-95.
Bull, David. "Introduction." Studies in the History of Art 40 (1990): 11, 15, repro. no. 8.
National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1992: 33, repro.
Ballarin, Alessandro. "Dosso Dossi." In Gilles Fage, ed. Le Siècle de Titien: L'âge d'or de la peinture à Venise. Paris, 1992: 409.
Berrie, Barbara H., and Sarah L. Fisher. "A Technical Investigation of the Materials and Methods of Dosso Dossi." In Janet Bridgland, ed. 10th Triennial Meeting, Washington, DC, 22-27 August 1993: Preprints. ICOM Committee for Conservation. 2 vols. Paris and Lawrence, Kansas, 1993: 1:70-74.
Ballarin, Alessandro. Dosso Dossi: La Pittura a Ferrara negli anni del Ducato di Alfonso I. 2 vols. Cittadella, 1994-1995: 2(1995):40, 45, 71-73, 309-310.
Del Bravo, Carlo. "L'Equicola e il Dosso." Artibus et historiae 30 (1994): 81.
Humfrey, Peter, and Maruo Lucco. Dosso Dossi. Court Painter in Renaissance Ferrara. Ed. Andrea Bayer. Exh. cat. Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Ferrara; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 1998-1999: 130-132.
Christiansen, Keith. "Dosso Dossi's Aeneas Frieze for Alfonso d'Este's Camerino." Apollo 151, no. 455 (January 2000): 36-45, fig. 11.
Ghersi, Lorenzo Finocchi. "Dosso Dossi, Giovanni Bellini e Tiziano nei "Camarini" di Alfonso I d'Este." Saggi e Memorie di Storia dell'Arte 27 (2003): 216, 217.
Farinella, Vicenzo. "L'Eneide' di Dosso per Alfonso d'Este (ed altre mitologie)." In Alessandro Ballarin, ed. Il Camerino delle Pitture di Alfonso I. 6: Dosso Dossi e La Pittura a Ferrara negli anni Del Ducato di Alfonso I. Atti del Convegno di Studio, Padova, Palazzo del Bo, 9-11 maggio 2001. Padua, 2007: 308-309, 326, 331.
Berzaghi, Renato. "Una segnalazione per le 'Storie di Enea' di Dosso Dossi." Prospettiva 139-140 (2010): 135, repro. 136.
"Vasari and the National Gallery of Art." National Gallery of Art Bulletin 48 (Spring 2013): 20, repro.
Farinella, Vincenzo, et al. Alfonso I d'Este: le immagini e il potere, da Ercole de' Roberti a Michelangelo. Milan, 2014: 529-532, fig. 233.
Humfrey, Peter. "More on Dosso's Aeneas Frieze." Artibus et historiae no. 81 (2020): 137-156, 139, fig. 3, as The Trojans Repairing their Ships at Acesta, 143 fig. 9, as left half of The Trojans at Acesta.
Straussman-Pflanzer, Eve. "Gifts & Acquisitions." Art for the Nation no. 64 (Fall 2021): 20-21, repro.

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