17th century Flemish and Dutch paintings

Trautmann, Johann Georg
2.600 €

Aeneas, Creusa, Anchises and Ascanius fleeing from Troy
Oil on panel : 38,2 X 33,1 cm
Frame : 56,3 X 51,2 cm

I am currently documenting this painting


About the subject of our painting

Both Homer in his ‘Odysssey’ and the Roman author Virgil in his ‘Aeneid’ describe how the War of Troy ended with the fall of the town thanks to a ruse: the Wooden Horse.

Having tried in vain for ten years to take Troy, Ulysses had a huge hollow statue of a wooden horse build, in which Greek soldiers were hidden. The Trojans thought the Greek had left for home, but the entire fleet was hiding behind the island of Tenedos. The Trojans pulled the statue to the temple of Athena inside town and then celebrated the end of the siege.

In the second part of the night the Greek soldiers emerged from the horse and they opened the undefended city gates to the rest of the Greek army … The town was thus finally taken by ruse after a siege that had lasted for ten long years. Troy was plundered and set ablaze. Its population was either killed or taken as slaves. Only a handful of people were able to flee with Aeneas.

In the left foreground we see Aeneas, forefather of Romulus and Remus, and of Julius Caesar, fleeing Troy. He is carrying his father Anchises, his son Ascanius is running in front of him. Next to Aeneas stands his wife, Princess Creusa, the daughter of King Priam of Troy. She will be killed during their escape by Greek soldiers.

Aeneas and his company were shipwrecked on the shores of Carthage, a North African city ruled by Queen Dido in present-day Tunisia. Dido and Aeneas fell deeply in love, but the gods called pious Aeneas away to fulfill his destiny in Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Roman people. Dido was left heartbroken and alone. In her despair, she built a funeral pyre composed of his armour and his gifts to her and committed suicide. When Dido sees Aeneas' fleet leaving she curses him and his Trojans and proclaims endless hate between Carthage and the descendants of Troy, the Romans, foreshadowing the Punic Wars. The Punic Wars were fought between Rome and Cathage from 264 to 146 BC . They resulted in the final destruction of Carthage, with Rome taking control of the complete Western Mediterrranean.

Aeneas was the son of Anchises and the love goddess Venus. Many generations later his grand-grand children were Romulus and Remus, Romulus of course being the founder of Rome. The author, Virgil, was being financially helped by Maecenas, whom we may call Augustus’ minister of culture.  Through the Aeneid Virgil legitimized the rule of Julius Caesar and of his adopted son Augustus by stating that the ‘gens Julia’, the family of Caesar had started with Aeneas’ son Ascanius, called ‘Illus’ from Ilium, which was actually the Roman name of Troy… .