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Overview

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.

Provenance

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; possibly purchased 1861 by José de Salamanca y Mayol (1811-1883), Marqués of Salamanca, Madrid.[7] (Kunsthandel A.G., Lucerne); sold 1926 to (Julius Böhler, Munich and Luzerne).[8] (Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi [1878–1955], Florence and Rome); sold 1936 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[9] gift 1939 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1933
Pitture Ferrarese del Rinascimento, Ferrara, 1933, no. 198, repro.
1939
Masterpieces of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture from 1300-1800, New York World's Fair, 1939, no. 83, as Departure of the Argonauts, repro.
1996
Obras Maestras de la National Gallery of Art de Washington, Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City, 1996-1997, unnumbered catalogue, 58-59, color repro.
1998
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.
Bibliography
1933
Barbantini, Nino. Catalogo della esposizione della Pittura Ferrarese del Rinascimento. Exh. cat. Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara. Venice, 1933: 162-163.
1933
Venturi, Adolfo. "L'esposizione della pittura ferrarese del Rinascimento per il Cenenario Ariostesco." L'Arte 36 (1933): 386.
1934
Longhi, Roberto. Officina Ferrarese. Rome, 1934. Reprinted in Edizione delle opere complete di Roberto Longhi. 14 vols. Florence, 1961-1984: 5(1956):86.
1935
Buscaroli, Renzo. La Pittura di Paesaggio in Italia. Bologna, 1935: 216.
1940
Suida, Wilhelm. "Die Sammlung Kress: New York." Pantheon 26 (1940): 280.
1941
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 58, no. 361, as Scene from a Legend.
1942
Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 246, repro., as Scene from a Legend.
1948
Tietze-Conrat, Erika. "Two Dosso Puzzles in Washington and New York." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 33 (1948): 129-136.
1949
Suida, Wilhelm. "Lucrezia Borgia: In Memoriam." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 35 (1949): 284.
1952
Gilbert, Creighton. "On Subject and Not-subject in Italian Renaissance Pictures." The Art Bulletin 34 (1952): 205.
1956
Longhi, Roberto. Officina ferrarese (1934), seguíta dagli Ampliamenti (1940) e dai Nuovi ampliamenti (1940-1955). Florence, 1956: 86.
1957
Arslan, Edoardo. “Una Natività di Dosso Dossi.” Commentari 8 (1957): 260.
1959
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 169, repro., as Scene from a Legend.
1964
Antonelli Trenti, Maria Grazia. "Notizie e precisazioni sul Dosso giovane." Arte Antica e Moderna 28 (1964): 410.
1964
Dreyer, Peter. "Die Entwicklung des jungen Dosso. Ein Beitrag zur Chronologie des Meisters biz zum Jahre 1522." Pantheon n.s. 22 (1964): 363.
1965
Dreyer, Peter. "Die Entwicklung des jungen Dosso. Ein Beitrag zur Chronologie des Meisters bis zum Jahre 1522." Pantheon 23 (1965): 24.
1965
Mezzetti, Amalia. "Le 'Storie di Enea' del Dosso nel 'camerino d'alabastro' di Alfonso I d'Este." Paragone 189-190 (1965): 71-84.
1965
Puppi, Lionello. Dosso Dossi. I Maestri di Colore 78. Milan, 1965.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 43, as Scene from a Legend.
1966
Vasari, Giorgio. Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori nelle redazioni del 1550 e 1568. Edited by Rosanna Bettarini and Paola Barocchi. 8 vols. Florence, 1966-1987: 6(1987):158.
1968
Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Central Italian and North Italian Schools. 3 vols. London, 1968: 114.
1968
Gibbons, Felton. Dosso and Battista Dossi: Court Painters at Ferrara. Princeton, 1968: 91, 114, 123-124, 214-215.
1968
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 36, repro., as Scene from a Legend.
1968
Puppi, Lionello. "A Monograph on Dosso Dossi." The Burlington Magazine 110 (1968): 360.
1968
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XV-XVI Century. London, 1968: 73-74, fig. 183.
1971
Freedberg, Sydney J. Painting in Italy 1500-1600. Harmondsworth, 1971, rev. ed. 1975: 316.
1971
Hope, Charles. "The 'Camerini d'Alabastro' of Alfonso d'Este." The Burlington Magazine 113 (1971): 643.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 110, repro.
1978
Goodgal, Dana. "The Camerino of Alfonso I d'Este." Art History 1 (1978): 170-173.
1979
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: 1:164-166; 2:pl. 115.
1982
Kaplan, Paul. "Titian's Laura Dianti and the Origins of the Motif of the Black Page in Portraiture." Antichità viva 21 (1982): 13.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 133, repro.
1986
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, 1986-1987. Washington, D.C., 1986: 114-115.
1987
Brown, Beverly L. "On the Camerino." In Bacchanals by Titian and Rubens: Papers given at a Symposium in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, March 18-19, 1987. Edited by Görel Cavalli-Björkman. Stockholm, 1987: 47-49.
1987
Cavalli-Björkman, Görel. "Camerino d’Alabastro: A Renaissance Room in Ferrara." Nationalmuseum Bulletin 11 (1987): 75, 89.
1987
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.
1990
Bull, David. "Introduction." Studies in the History of Art 40 (1990): 11, 15, repro. no. 8.
1992
National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1992: 33, repro.
1993
Ballarin, Alessandro. "Dosso Dossi." In Le Siècle de Titien: L'âge d'or de la peinture à Venise. Edited by Gilles Fage. Paris, 1992: 409.
1993
Berrie, Barbara H., and Sarah L. Fisher. "A Technical Investigation of the Materials and Methods of Dosso Dossi." In 10th Triennial Meeting, Washington, DC, 22-27 August 1993: Preprints. ICOM Committee for Conservation. Edited by Janet Bridgland. 2 vols. Paris and Lawrence, Kansas, 1993: 1:70-74.
1994
Ballarin, Alessandro. Dosso Dossi: La Pittura a Ferrara degli Anni del Ducato di Alfonso I. 2 vols. Cittadella, 1994-1995: 2(1995):40, 45, 71-73, 309-310.
1994
Del Bravo, Carlo. "L'Equicola e il Dosso." Artibus et historiae 30 (1994): 81.
1998
Humfrey, Peter, and Maruo Lucco. Dosso Dossi. Court Painter in Renaissance Ferrara. Edited by 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. New York, 1998: 130-132.
2000
Christiansen, Keith. "Dosso Dossi's Aeneas Frieze for Alfonso d'Este's Camerino." Apollo 151, no. 455 (January 2000): 36-45, fig. 11.
2013
"Vasari and the National Gallery of Art." National Gallery of Art Bulletin 48 (Spring 2013): 20, repro.
2014
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.
2020
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.
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