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Joachim Wtewael, The Judgement of Paris

Key facts
Full title The Judgement of Paris
Artist Joachim Wtewael
Artist dates 1566 - 1638
Date made 1615
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 59.8 × 79.2 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Claude Dickason Rotch, 1962
Inventory number NG6334
Location Room 24
Collection Main Collection
The Judgement of Paris
Joachim Wtewael

Wtewael’s sumptuous picture, full of soft, subtle colour, shows the precursor to the mythological Trojan War. Jupiter, ruler of the gods, has sent Eris (the personification of strife) to provoke a quarrel about which goddess is the most beautiful: Minerva, goddess of war, with her helmet and spear; Juno, Jupiter’s wife, her peacock in the trees above; or Venus, goddess of love, with pearls in her hair.

The shepherd Paris, in reality a Trojan prince, was chosen to be the judge; he hands Venus the golden apple marked ‘To the Fairest’. Venus had offered him Helen, wife of King Menelaus of Sparta and the most beautiful woman in the world, as a bribe, sowing the seeds of the war. But for the moment, Paris' flock and his dog lie down in the midst of peace and plenty – fur nestles against flesh, silk against petals and luscious shells among feathery grasses.

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