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Work Aeneas Carrying Anchises

Department of Paintings: French painting

Aeneas and Anchises

© 1990 RMN / Christian Jean

Paintings
French painting

Author(s):
Sophie Eloy

This composition—by far the most "baroque" of Carle Vanloo's career—was painted in Rome. The subject was inspired by Virgil's Aeneid: Troy having fallen to the Greeks, the Trojan prince Aeneas resolved to flee the burning city with his family. Wearing armor, the young man carries his elderly father Anchises on his back; Aeneas's wife Creusa confides the household gods (the Penates) to the old man, as their son Ascanius turns to look back at the blazing city.

The greatest painter in Europe, according to Baron Grimm

Carle Vanloo was born into a dynasty of artists of Dutch origin living in France who enjoyed official favor from the latter half of the 17th century. His father Abraham-Louis having died when Carle was just a child, his older brother Jean-Baptiste took charge of his early education. The brothers spent several years in Rome, where Carle frequented the studios of Italian artists. He completed his education in Paris, and was awarded the prize of the Academy of Painting in 1724. Due to the financial upheavals of the Regency period, he was not given the usual prize money, and only returned to Italy three years later, where he enjoyed a brilliant early career. He became a member of the Academy in 1734, and was appointed First Painter to Louis XV in 1762. He earned every honor, receiving many commissions from the king and court. His renown was such that even the most reserved contemporary critics recognized his worth, Voltaire even comparing him to Raphael.

A Roman painting

Vanloo chose the most dramatic moment in the second book of the Aeneid, which allowed him to represent the origins of Rome in the person of Aeneas (considered by Latin poets and historians to be the Father of Rome, founded after his flight from Troy to Italy) and exploit his knowledge of Roman painting. Although the subject had already been treated (notably by Antoine Coypel in Paris, some ten years earlier), Vanloo drew his chief inspiration for this work from Italian art: as a young painter in Rome, he had been greatly influenced by the paintings on this theme by Raphael, Bernini, and especially by Baroccio (now in the Borghese Gallery).
Vanloo's painting also shows the influence of contemporary Roman art, which he had studied with Benedetto Lutti during his first stay in Rome. The mise-en-scène is both sculptural and turbulent, the animated draperies accentuated by the rich palette, and the contrast of light and darkness.

Vanloo's "nec plus ultra"

This composition was painted in Rome and engraved in 1737, shortly after the artist's return to France in 1734. It enjoyed considerable fame in the 18th century, and successively belonged to two of the most prestigious collections of the time (that of Ange-Laurent de La Live de Jully, and that of the Prince of Conti) before being purchased by Louis XVI in 1777. The work's success is no doubt what led Vanloo to copy it or have it copied by his pupils, although this was not his usual practice. Three such copies are known today (Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Angers, Musée Lambinet in Versailles, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm).

Bibliography

- SAHUT Marie-Catherine, Carle Vanloo, Premier peintre du roi, catalogue de l'exposition, Nice, Clermont-Ferrand et Nancy, Paris, s.n., 1977.

- DEBRABANDERE-DESCAMPS Béatrice, Charles Astro, Andréa Zanella Les Van Loo, fils d'Abraham, catalogue de l'exposition, Nice, Nice musées, 2000.

Technical description

  • Charles-André, known as Carle VANLOO (Nice, 1705 - Paris, 1765)

    Aeneas and Anchises

    1729

  • H. 1.10 m; W. 1.05 m

  • Collection of Louis XVI (acquired in 1777)

    INV. 6278

  • Paintings

    Sully wing
    2nd floor
    The painters of Louis XV
    Room 38

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Additional information about the work

Signed bottom right: "Charle Vanloo"