The Arrival of Aeneas at Pallanteum
Claude Lorrain (Champagne 1600 – Rome 1682)
The scene shows the legendary founder of Rome about to disembark upstream on the River Tiber some time after his flight from the fall of Troy. As described in Virgil’s Aeneid, Book VIII, the Trojan Aeneas stands on the prow of his ship, offering an olive branch of peace to Latin King Evander and his son, Pallas. Don Gasparo, who commissioned the painting, was the son of a Roman nobleman, Angelo Albertoni and married into the Altieri family. The flag on the second ship bears the coat of arms of the family after which the picture and its pendant, The Father of Psyche sacrificing at the Temple of Apollo, painted earlier in 1662, are named. The Altieris claimed to be descended from Aeneas. In the last decade of his career Claude depicted scenes from the Aeneid in six paintings. The elongated figures of Aeneas and his companions are characteristic of Claude’s later style. He was, however, less concerned with the subject than with capturing subtle effects of light, in this case in the Campagna landscape around Rome. Claude’s landscapes were much sought after by British collectors. Both pictures arrived in England in 1799 with a special naval escort and were bought by William Beckford, one of the most discerning collectors of the age. Beckford sold the paintings in 1808 for the huge sum of 12,000 guineas – the highest sum ever paid for paintings on canvas at that time.
Oil painting on canvas, The Arrival of Aeneas at Pallanteum by Claude Lorrain (Champagne 1600 – Rome 1682), signed and dated bottom centre and inscribed below Aeneas: Larrivo d'Anea a palant [eo] al monte evantino Claudio. Gille. inv. fecit. ROMAE. 1675. Two oared ships about to land, Aeneas holding olive branch, welcoming group in centre, fortress on hill left, sheep and shepherds left foreground. Aeneas arrives with two galleys at Pallanteum, bearing palm leaf and asking for friendship. Youths of the town assembled in a grove outside and armed are afraid. Prince Pallas, carrying a spear, addresses the newcomers from a cliff. On far side of the river, ruins of ancient towns. The scene is taken from the Roman poet Virgil's Aeneid, Book VIII: 79-123, which describes the journeyings of the Trojan leader, Aeneas. After adventures in the Mediterranean and southern Italy, Aeneas arrived in Latium, at the mouth of the Tiber. Instructed by the river god to seek an ally, he sets sail and soon reached Pallanteum, the site on which he was one day to found Rome. There he met Pallas, son of king Evander, with whom he concluded an armed alliance. This was painted by Claude for Gasparo Paluzzi degli Albertoni in 1675. When Gasparo’s uncle-in-law, Emilio Altieri (1590-1676) ascended to the papacy as Clement X on 29 April 1670, both Gasparo and his father Angelo were promoted, the former becoming a prince. No doubt after this event Gasparo, as the papal nephew, deemed it appropriate to order an Arrival of Aeneas as a proud allusion to his position and noble descent not only from the Altieri family but also from Aeneas himself: the Altieri family claimed lineage from the founder of Rome and consequently their family coat of arms is displayed on Aeneas’ ship.
Painted in 1675 for the prince Gasparo Paluzzi degli Albertoni Altieri who in 1667 had married the Altieri heiress and assumed her name along with his father, and had been created papal nephew on the accession of her uncle, Emilio Altieri - Pope Clement X (1590-1676) on 29 April 1670 (Liber Veritatis 185); at Palazzo Altieri, Rome until 1798/9 when the family, fearful of sequestration by the French offered the paintings to Tatham, who declined to buy them, because he was afraid that they would be seized at sea (Britton); instead in 1798/1799 both this and its pendant 'The Father of Psyche sacrificing at the Temple of Apollo' (1662 or 1665) which have since always remained together, were bought in 1799 by two artists-cum-dealers, Charles Grignion (1754-1804) and Robert Fagan (c.1745-1816), and brought to England (Nelson detached a frigate from the Mediterranean Fleet to act as escort); sold on arrival in England to Henry Tresham for William Beckford (1760 - 1844), Fonthill for £6,825 the pair; sold to Richard Hart-Davis, MP (1766 - 1842), June 1808 through the dealer Harris for 12, 000 gns the pair; by whom sold in 1813 to Philip John Miles (1774-1845) (etched in 1822) and thence by descent to his son Sir Philp Miles, Bt (1825 - 1888) of Leigh Court, Somerset; sold Christie's 18 June 1884, bought for 3,800 guineas by Agnew and sold to Captain Robert B. Brassey by whom sold Christie's 3 May 1940, lot 75 and bought for 700 guineas by George Edward Alexander Edmund, Duke of Kent (1902-1942); his widow HRH the Duchess of Kent, sold Christie's 14 March 1947, lots 28 & 29; bought. for 2,200 guineas by Leggatt for Lord Fairhaven; bequeathed to the National Trust by Huttleston Rogers Broughton, 1st Lord Fairhaven (1896-1966) with the house and the rest of the contents.
Anglesey Abbey, The Fairhaven Collection (National Trust)
Marks and inscriptions
Recto: Label on frame 'Painted for Prince Don Gasparo Altieri, Liber Veritatis 185. From the Beckford Collection. From the Hart-Davis Collection. Exhibited at the British Institution 1818 No.115. Exhibited at Burlington House 1871 No.149. From the Collection of Sir Philip Miles Bart 1884. From the Collection of Captain Robert B. Brassey 1940. From the Collection of HRH the late Duke of Kent KG KT GCMG GCVO. Exhibited at Burlington House 1950 No.69'.
Makers and roles
Claude Lorrain (Champagne 1600 – Rome 1682), artist
Turner Inspired, in the Light of Claude, National Gallery, London, 2012 The Treasure Houses of Britain, National Gallery of Art, Washington, USA, 1985 - 1986, no.309
Farington 1804 Joseph Farington, The Diary of Joseph Farington, ed. Kenneth Garlick & Angus Macintyre, New Haven and London, 16 vols 1978-84, 8-9 May 1799 Britton, 1801: John Britton, The Beauties of Wiltshire, 1801, Vol. I, pp.227-30 Young, John,. A catalogue of the pictures at Leigh Court, 1822., 1822, p.2 Buchanan 1824 W. Buchanan, Memoirs of Paintings, 2 vols., London, 1824, 1824, II, p.31 Waagen 1854-7 Gustav Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, 3 vols. (translated by Lady Eastlake) with a supplementary volume: Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain, London, 1854-7, 1854, vol. III, p.181 Smith 1829-42 John Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters, 8 vols and supplement, London, 1829-42, vol. VIII, no. 185.