‘The Judgement of Paris’, by William Etty
Originally exhibited under the title ‘The Choice of Paris’ at the 1826 Royal Academy, the following explanation appeared in the catalogue:
The Goddess of Discord, incensed at not being invited to the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, threw into the assembly of the Gods who were at the entertainment, a golden apple, on which was inscribed ‘To the fairest’. All the Goddesses claimed it as their own but at last only three, Juno, Venus and Minerva, wished to dispute their respective right to beauty, and the Gods, unwilling to become arbiters in an affair an affair so delicate, appointed Paris, a Phrygian shepherd, son of Priam, to adjudge the prize. Each tried by promises and entreaties to gain the attentions of Paris, and influence his judgement. After he had heard their several claims and promises, Paris adjudged the prize to Venus and gave her the apple.
It was the first beauty contest, but without swimwear. There was also a quite unacceptable degree of bribery from the contestants. In exchange for awarding Venus the prize, Paris was promised the love of Helen, wife of Menelaus and their elopement brought on the Trojan War. But that is another story…
Free gallery talks Tuesday 6 and Thursday 15 December, 1pm, Room 30