DOSSI, Dosso
(b. ca. 1490, Ferrara, d. 1542, Ferrara)

Aeneas and Achates on the Libyan Coast

c. 1520
Oil on canvas, 58,7 x 87,6 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

Also commissioned by Alfonso d'Este for the Alabaster Chamber, this small canvas formed part of a series of ten paintings -- all of the same height and all by Ferrara's court artist Dosso Dossi and his brother Battista Dossi -- that ran continuously around the upper walls of the room, forming a frieze above the large canvases.

The series depicted the adventures of the Trojan hero Aeneas, venerated in Italy since antiquity as a founder of the Roman state. Aeneas' wanderings around the Mediterranean after the sack of Troy and his rise to kingship in Italy were immortalized in The Aeneid, an epic poem written by Virgil (70-19 B.C.).

Dosso's painting represents the episode when Aeneas and his friend Achates were shipwrecked off the coast of Libya and cast up at Carthage. The similarity of this picture's vivid green pigments to some of the repainted foliage in The Feast of the Gods implies that Dosso could have been responsible for the first alteration to Bellini's masterpiece.