The painting depicts Queen Dido as a three-quarter length seated figure in contemporary dress against a black background. Her head is inclined and she looks at the viewer. In her right hand she holds a dagger, which she has already plunged into her chest, while her left hand rests on her lap. She wears a contemporary robe with parallel steps on the sleeves and a white undergarment with bunched material at the elbows, which has slid off her shoulders to reveal her breasts. A fur-trimmed golden overcoat covers her left shoulder, and is wrapped around her so that it covers her lap. Her blond locks are pinned up under a bonnet decorated with pearls. She has a thin choker with a pendant around her neck, as well as a chain and a narrow leather band with a pendant. She wears a simple ring on her finger.
[Herrschaft, CDA 2010]
According to the legend Dido was the founder of Carthage, who fell in love with the Trojan prince Aeneas. When Aeneas left Carthage at the request of the Gods to found a new city in Italy Dido stabbed herself. She became the tragic heroine in a story where duty prevailed over love.