Dido and Aeneas, the tragic love story of the Trojan hero and the Queen of Carthage is told by Virgil. Aeneas, after the sacking of Troy, was given the task by the Gods of founding a new civilisation in Italy, but on the way he met and fell in love with the Carthaginian Queen Dido. He dallied with her until he was reminded by the Gods (and his disgruntled crew) of his mission. He reluctantly sailed away leaving the broken hearted Queen on the beach. She surrounded herself with Aeneas’ gifts and possessions left behind in his haste on a funeral pyre, then killed herself with his sword.
Turner painted Dido using a golden palette, she was also painted by Guercino, Rubens and others, but I was in some ways more inspired by music: Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” and Dido’s mournful lament “When I am laid in earth”.
The photograph was shot on a Mediterranean beach near Argentario on a cloudless evening. The model Lucia holds my Father’s naval sword, the ship on the horizon is HMS Eagle, my Father’s address on my birth certificate.