Aeneas Erects a Tomb to his Nurse, Caieta, and Flees the Country of Circe (Aeneid, Book VII)
Master of the Aeneid (active ca. 1530–40)
probably ca. 1530–35
Painted enamel on copper, partly gilt
7 3/4 x 8 1/2 in. (19.7 x 21.6 cm)
Gift of Coudert Brothers, 1888
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 544
European of the Renaissance period viewed ancient Rome not only as the origin of Italian civilzation but also the geographic center of a lost golden age. This plaque belongs to a series of at least eighty Limoges enamels illustrating events from Virgil’s Aeneid. The Latin epic poem tells the story of the legendary hero Aeneas, who escaped the sack and burning of Troy by the Greeks and, after wandering for some time, settled in Italy, where his descendants founded Rome.
The scenes are not, however, the product of the enameler's imagination; rather, they are close copies of the woodcut illustrations for the edition of the Latin poet’s Opera printed by Johann Grüninger in Strasbourg in 1502. The same woodcuts were used again for the edition published in Lyon in 1517. The anonymous painter of the enamels may have used either the Strasbourg of the Lyon edition as his model, but the enamels are somewhat later than either edition. Because of changes made at an early point in the series in the technique employed for counterenameling the plaques (enameling the reverse side), it seems likely that most of them were painted after about 1530 or 1533.
Inscription: On banners:  CIRCE;  CAIETA;  ENEAS
Prince Anatole Demidov (until 1870) ; Mme. d' Oliviera (until 1887) ; Coudert Brothers (until 1888; to MMA)