Recent acquisitions by the Cleveland Museum of Art include Aurelio Lombardo’s “Dido,” an exquisitely carved early 16th-century marble relief sculpture, and a drawing by Giulio Romano directly related to one of the artist’s most important frescoed ceilings in Italy.
On January 29, 2021, the CMA acquired Aurelio Lombardo’s sculpture “Dido,” from the auction of Hester Diamond’s collection at Sotheby’s, NY. Created at a pivotal moment in the birth of Mannerist sculpture, it depicts the legendary queen Dido. Departing from the customary portrayal of Dido as a forlorn lover abandoned by the Trojan hero Aeneas, Aurelio’s Dido is active and defiant. The sculpture’s inscription identifies her as the queen of Carthage, and she is represented pulling aside an oxhide curtain, a reference to Virgil’s description of the mythical founding of Carthage in his epic poem, the “Aeneid.”
Dido is depicted nude, and her wavy hair is worn in loose knots, an allusion to Hellenistic images of Aphrodite. Lombardo’s virtuoso carving ranges from the delicate, low relief of the