Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Giovanni Francesco Romanelli, Italian (Viterbo 1610? - 1662 Viterbo)
Aeneas Taking Leave of Dido
Work Type
17th century
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Brown ink and brown and gray wash over black chalk on cream antique laid paper, partially squared in black chalk, partial framing line in brown ink, laid down on decorative mount
sight: 25 x 31.5 cm (9 13/16 x 12 3/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: mount, black chalk, lower left corner: [illegible/effaced]
  • inscription: black ink, lower right: C.R. [Lugt 624]
  • inscription: mount, brown ink, upper left corner: 249 [underlined]
Charles Rogers, London (his mark, Lugt 624, black ink, lower right) sale [Thomas Philipe, London, April 20, 1799, lot 547]. Sale [Sotheby's, New York, 28 January 1998, lot 34] sold; to Jeffrey E. Horvitz, Boston, gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2008
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Jeffrey E. Horvitz
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Romanelli was the most successful student of Pietro da Cortona, the most important painter working in Central Italy in the mid-seventeenth century. Romanelli gradually moved away from the full-blown Baroque exuberance of his master and Bernini--with whom he also collaborated--towards a slightly more sober and classicizing approach to form and composition. This more restrained manner served him well in France, where he was invited by Cardinal Mazarin to decorate the ceiling of his grand galerie (today the Galerie Mazarine of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, 1646-48), and later received a royal commission to decorate the ceilings of the apartment of the queen mother, Anne of Austria, at the Louvre (1655-57). Because of these successful commissions, Romanelli became a pivotal figure in the gradual acceptance of the Baroque in France, which would reach its apogee a generation later in the works of Le Brun at Versailles.

This drawing is related to a commission received from the Pope's nephew, Cardinal Francesco Barberini, in the late 1630s. Romanelli was asked to design a tapestry series depicting the story of Dido and Aeneas from Virgil's Aeneid for the cardinal's newly established manufactory. The drawing depicts the seventh of the eight scenes in the series that was woven under the direction of Michael Wauters from Antwerp (Aeneid, IV, 362-92). Only four complete sets remain. Cartoons for six scenes are in the Norton-Simon Museum in Pasadena, and other related preparatory drawings are in: the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; the British Museum, London; the Courtauld Institute, London; and the Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf.
Publication History

Catalogue of the Extensive Cabinet of Capital Drawings by the Greatest Masters of All Schools...Collected with Superior Judgment by Charles Rogers..., auct. cat., T. Philipe (London, 04/15/1799), lot 547

Nicholas Turner and Rhoda Eitel-Porter, Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum: Roman Baroque Drawings c. 1620-c. 1700, British Museum Press (London, 1999), vol. 1, p. 182, under cat. no. 273

The Jeffrey E. Horvitz Collection of Italian Drawings, auct. cat., Sotheby's, New York (New York, January 23, 2008), repr. p. 204

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