CAYOT, Claude-Augustin
(b. 1677, Paris, d. 1722, Paris)

The Death of Dido

Marble, height 86 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

A definite drama, inspired by love, is apparent in the sophisticated Death of Dido, Cayot's morceau de reception of 1711. This combines detail of the sort approved by Van Clève with an appropriately writhing 'rococo' dramatic pose: Dido emerges here as one of the first operatic heroines of the new century, suitably enough when a few years later Metastasio was to produce 'Didone abbandonata'. Cayot's Dido is a martyr to love, the figured pose is, especially when seen from the side, an almost violent, ecstatic arabesque, emphasized by the very fluent draperies which manage both to cling and to expose. This woman is dying of love, with a sword thrust deeply into her flesh, eyes upturned, and mouth slackly opened.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 9 minutes):
Henry Purcell: Dido and Aeneas, Dido's Farewell