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Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, The Procession of the Trojan Horse into Troy

Key facts
Full title The Procession of the Trojan Horse into Troy
Artist Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo
Artist dates 1727 - 1804
Series Two Sketches depicting the Trojan Horse
Date made about 1760
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 38.8 × 66.7 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1918
Inventory number NG3319
Location Room 39
Collection Main Collection
The Procession of the Trojan Horse into Troy
Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo

This painting shows an episode from the mythological Trojan War, as described by the Roman poet Virgil in the Aeneid. The Trojans rejoice as they pull a large wooden horse into their city, believing it to be a gift from the gods; it actually conceals a band of Greek soldiers. In the background, Cassandra, daughter of the King of Troy, is being arrested for having prophesied disaster if the horse entered the city. She turned out to be right: once inside, the Greeks took control of Troy.

The feverish activity of the crowd and the horse’s muscular build and looming stature convey the story’s epic nature. The high walls and the sharply receding space lead our eye towards the city of Troy in the distance, which Tiepolo based on ancient buildings and fortifications in Rome.

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Two Sketches depicting the Trojan Horse


The Building of the Trojan Horse and The Procession of the Trojan Horse are part of a series illustrating the fall of Troy, an ancient city on the coast of Turkey that was besieged by Greek armies for ten years. The Trojan War was one of the most important events in Greek mythology.

According to Virgil’s Aeneid (Book 2), the Greeks built a giant wooden horse in which they could hide their men, and left it outside the impregnable walls of Troy. The Trojans, believing it to be a gift, wheeled it inside the city. Under the cover of darkness, the Greek soldiers climbed out of the horse and took Troy.

Painted in around 1760, these scenes were probably intended as preparatory designs for larger oil paintings. Domenico’s monumental The Building of the Trojan Horse is in the Wadsworth Atheneum, in the United States, but the whereabouts of the other large canvasses is not known.