Object Image

The Judgement of Paris

This painting depicts a critical moment in classical mythology. The man on the left with his back to us is Paris, who had been raised as a shepherd but was actually a prince of Troy. He has been asked to judge a beauty contest between the goddesses Venus, Juno and Minerva, and to award a golden apple to the winner. We see Paris hand the apple to Venus, won over by her promise to reward him with the love of the most beautiful mortal woman - Helen, the wife of King Menelaus of Sparta.

It is a choice that will lead to Paris' eventual abduction of Helen, the Greeks' attempts to recapture her and the eventual destruction of Troy. Here, however, his decision is not depicted as a portent, but is hail...

c. 1597-9
Oil on oak
133.9 x 174.5cm
Image and text © The National Gallery, London, 2023

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