Aeneas Fleeing from Troy

Aeneas Fleeing from Troy is a painting by Federico Barocci (Federico Fiori), located in the Borghese Collection in Rome. Its dimensions are 176 x 253 cm.


Considering Barocci’s only attempt at a historical narration, this scene was twice ordered by the Della Rovere family as a gift for their further social connection. The first, now lost, the artwork was intended for the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Rudolph II. The second was given to Cardinal Scipione Borghese, adapting the imperial allegory as a scene of the spiritual purity of the Roman Cardinal.

Aeneas by Barocci shows how the motives of his patrons are integrated into his process. Although it was believed that the two versions of Aeneas copied each other for a long time, a large-scale cartoon with a strikingly different landscape than a preserved painting suggests that Barocci perceived the first version differently. This review investigates problems of patronage and exchange of gifts and how the artist applied his skills and replication process with the most significant effect.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the exchange of gifts was a standard practice among the nobility, which constantly sought a higher social status as a way of establishing mutual and long-standing relationship.


The scene shows that Aeneas leaves the city of Troy with his wife Creusa and his son Ascanius. He is trying to escape the fire, which has already begun to burn the round temple in the background. On his shoulders, he carries his father, Anchises, who embraces the Penates, statues of the house gods, and which is similar to Creusa pathetically contrasts with the heroic figure of his son.

Federico Barocci has used the same model for the elderly fther as he did for the figure in St Jerome.


The balustrade of the stairs on the left offers a theatrical “mise en scene” in which the viewer is present. The complex division of space, the movement of runaway figures, and their clothes of pastel shades foreshadow the stylistic features of Baroque art, even though the painting resembles Raphael’s Fire in Borgo (Stanza dell’Incendio di Borgo, Vatican) and the chapel on the right reminds Bramante’s temple next to San Pietro in Montorio in Rome.

The artwork is signed and dated FED.BAR.VRB / FAC.MDXCVIII in gold-plated letters at the foot of the stairs, but the artist had already painted the same subject for Emperor Rudolph II ten years ago. An engraving had been made of this by Agostino Carracci in 1595. Barocci may have obtained the commission for the first version through the Flemish painter Bartholomeus Spranger after the latter arrived in Prague. Three copies of this painting exist: one of them, possibly from the 18th century, depicts the Trojan horse in front of the temple.

Although its provenance is unknown, the painting may have been donated by the patron, Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, to Scipione Borghese.

Borghese Gallery in Rome,
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Author: Federico Barocci

Federico Barocci

Federico Barocci (1535-1612) was an Italian Renaissance painter and printmaker. His original name was Federico Fiori, and he was nicknamed Il Baroccio. Motivated by a wide extend of Renaissance experts, including Raphael, Correggio, Jacopo Tintoretto, and Titian, Barocci created a unique style that combined distinctive color with figures in dynamic and dramatic postures. His visionary works are characterized by warmth of feeling and profound spirituality. A committed draughtsman, Barocci embraced new drawing approaches, allowing him to create a few unorthodox painterly methods. Because he adored color, he drew in a range of tones and surfaces, being the primary Italian artist to systematically utilize colored pastels and oils as a part of the preparatory process.

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