Urgent Museum Notice

Dido and Aeneas

Close up of Dido and Aeneas

Accordion book of peach paper. Blocks of text, in geometric and organic-shaped boxes, occupy the lower half of the pages. Each block of text has additional folds, forming a mini-book. Above, warm colors fade into dark skies, trees, and ship masts, and then again into pink tones.

Claire Van Vliet, Dido and Aeneas, 1989; Monoprint and handmade paper, 15 x 42 x 6 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Museum purchase: The Lois Pollard Price Acquisition Fund; © Claire Van Vliet

Dido and Aeneas
Claire Van Vliet

Dido and Aeneas celebrates the 300th anniversary of the Baroque opera by Henry Purcell, which was first performed in London in 1689. Nahum Tate’s libretto tells the drama of Dido, the betrayed and abandoned queen of Carthage who throws herself on a funerary pyre as the ship of her lover, Aeneas, leaves the harbor.

Each scene of the opera has text from the libretto sewn into the accordion book structure. The dark sky reflects the turbulent feelings of the despairing queen; the tops of the trees are symbolic of the grove where the lovers meet; and the masts of the ships signal the departure of Aeneas. The last section of the book takes us back to the royal palace, where the story begins, the sky in Carthage once again quiet. The book includes a CD of the opera performed by the Taverner Choir and Taverner Players.

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Claire Van Vliet
  • Title

    Dido and Aeneas
  • Date

  • Medium

    Pulp painting on handmade paper
  • Dimensions

    7 x 14 in.
  • Donor Credit

    Museum purchase: The Lois Pollard Price Acquisition Fund
  • Photo Credit

    © Claire Van Vliet
  • On Display