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The Judgement of Paris
Rubens, Peter Paul
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Rubens, Peter Paul

Siegen, Westphalia (Germany), 1577 - Antwerp (Belgium), 1640

Rubens, Peter Paul See author's file

The Judgement of Paris

Ca. 1638. Oil on canvas.
Room 029

The mythological story of the Judgment of Paris begins with the wedding of Thetis and Peleus, where Eris, goddess of Discord, challenged the most beautiful goddesses to take a golden apple which she threw among the guests. Juno, Minerva and Venus started to argue and Jupiter decided to give the apple to Mercury and let Paris be the judge of this dispute. This judgment is told by the Roman poet Ovid (in the book Heroides, XVI, 65-88), Paris would choose Venus as the winner. In return, the goddess gave him Helena of Troy, provoking the war of Troy.

The theme of the Judgment of Paris was used by Rubens on several occasions. It allowed him to display his ideal of female beauty, and also to consider the consequences of love and passion. This version is based on a design for a ewer that Rubens made. In the drawing for the ewer, the scene is larger and with more figures to the right and to the left. In the painting he decided to focus more on the three naked figures. The bodies are painted using sinuous lines, and exaggerated gestures. Paint is applied in brushstrokes that don’t always blend with each other, and that call attention to themselves. This way of painting is characteristic of Rubens later works, and is a result of his admiration of Venetian painting.

This painting was a personal commission by King Philip IV of Spain from Rubens in 1637-1638, a time when he was already working on other projects for the same patron. The king´s brother, Cardinal-Infante don Fernando de Austria, who was governor of the Southern Netherlands, handled the commission and wrote about it in several letters. He considered this one of Rubens´s best works, but was concerned about the nudity of the three women.

The painting was sent to Madrid in 1639, and was placed in the Buen Retiro Palace, where it is first inventoried in 1666.

The Prado owns another painting of the judgment of Paris by Rubens, made during his youth (P-1731).

Revised and updated information by the Flemish and Northern European Paintings Department, Museo del Prado (March, 2015)


Technical data

Inventory number
Rubens, Peter Paul
The Judgement of Paris
Ca. 1638
Height: 199 cm; Width: 381 cm
Royal Collection (Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, 1701-1703 s.n.; Palacio Nuevo, Madrid, Estudio de Andrés de la Calleja, 1772, nº235; Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid, Pinturas que posee la Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernnado, Madrid, 1796-1805, nº67; Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Sala reservada, 1827, nº67; Museo Real de Pinturas a la muerte de Fernando VII, Madrid, Sala Reservada, 1834, nº26)

Bibliography +

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier y Beroqui, Pedro, Inventarios Reales en 12 Volumenes y Un Indice (Fotocopias) (procedencia/provenanace), 1923.

Férnandez Bayton, Gloria, Inventarios reales: testamentaria del Rey Carlos II: 1701-1703 (procedencia/provenance), Museo del Prado. Patronato Nacional de Museos, 1975.

Díaz Padrón, Matías, Museo del Prado: catálogo de pintura: escuela flamenca, Museo del Prado. Patrimonio Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1975, pp. 270-271.

Barghahn, Barbara Von, Philip IV and the Golden House of the Buen Retiro in the Tradition of Caesar, Garland PublishingInc., Londres, 1986, pp. 212-225.

Vosters, Simon A., Rubens y España: estudio artístico-literario sobre la estética del Barroco, Cátedra, Madrid, 1990, pp. 74-85.

Díaz Padrón, Matías, El siglo de Rubens en el Museo del Prado : catálogo razonado, Prensa Iberica, Barcelona, 1995, pp. 962.

Anes, Gonzalo, Las colecciones reales y la fundación del Museo del Prado, Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 200.

Healy, Fiona, Rubens and the Judgement of Paris. A Question of Choice, Brepols, Belgica, 1997.

Vergara, Alejandro, Rubens and his spanish patrons, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999, pp. 123.

Vergara, Alejandro, The Presence of Rubens in Spain. (Volumes i and II). Tesis D, A Bell & Howell Company, Ann Arbor, 1999, pp. 77-84.

Portús Pérez, Javier, La sala reservada y el desnudo en el Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Turner, Madrid, 2002, pp. 116.

García Gual, C., 'Relato mítico y momento pictórico. Rubens y Ovidio' En Historias inmortales, Galaxia Gutemberg, Barcelona, 2003, pp. 281-298.

Velde, Carl, Classical mythology in the Netherlands in the age of Renaissance and Baroque: proceedings of the international conference, Peeters, Amberes, 2009, pp. 113-129.

Rubens im Wettstreit mit Alten Meistern. Vorbild und Neuerf, Hatje Cantz, 2009, pp. 82-115.

De Clippel, Karolien; Van Cauteren, Katharina y Van der Stighelen, Katlijne, Nude and the norm in the early modern low countries, Brepols, Turnhout, 2011, pp. 201-220.

González de Zárate, José Maria, Rubens, pensamiento estoico y pintura poética. El Juicio de Paris, una alegoria del mal gobierno. Las tres Gracias, imagen de libertad, Potestas, n.5, 2012, pp. 107-153 f.1.

Georgievska-Shine, Aneta Silver, Larry, Rubens, Velázquez, and the King of Spain, Ashgate, Surrey, 2014, pp. 251-253.

Büttner, Nils., Rubens : Eine Biographie., Verlag Schnell & Steiner GmbH, 2015, pp. 150 f.66.

Portús Pérez, Javier, Displaying the Nude in Spain 1550-1834. The Sala Reservada, en: Splendor, Myth, and Vision: Nudes from the Prado, Clark Art Institute; Museo Nacional del Prado, 2016, pp. 50-66 [61].

Burke, Jill, The European Nude 1400-1650, en: Splendor, Myth, and Vision: Nudes from the Prado, Clark Art Institute ; Museo Nacional del Prado, 2016, pp. 16-49 [37].

Gluber, G., 'Theory and practice of the representation of the human body ' En:, Rubens: The Power of Transformation, Hirmer ; Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien,, Viena, 2017, pp. 158-179 [160 n.41].

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1873-1907. Núm. 1590.
1590.-(1704-R.)-El juicio de Páris.-Contempla el jóven pastor á las tres diosas desnudas, y á su lado Mercurio les muestra la manzana que ha de adjudicarse á la más hermosa. (Véase nuestro catálogo extenso.)-Figuras de cuerpo entero y tamaño natural. / Col. de Cárlos II, R. Alc. y Pal. de Madrid.-F.L. / Alto 1,99; ancho 3,79.-L.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1704.
Rubens / 1704. El juicio de Paris. / El amor corona a Venus con una guirnalda de rosas, y Mercurio la va a entregar la manzana que le adjudica el joven pastor, el cual agradablemente la contempla. / Alto 7 pies, 1 pulg, 6 lin; ancho 13 pies, 7 pulg.

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. 235.
Estudio de don Andrés de la Calleja [...] 235 / Otro del Juicio de Paris de quatro varas y media de largo y dos varas y tercia de caida original escuela de Rubenes = numero blanco

Inv. Testamentaría Fernando VII, Real Museo, Sala Reservada, 1834. Núm. 26.
SALA RESERVADA [...] Veinte y seis. El Juicio de Paris. Este esta sentado mirando atentamente a las tres Diosas. Rubens Escuela Flamenca Lº 50.400

Academia, Sala Reservada, 1827. Núm. 67.
Juicio de Paris. / [Autor] Rubens / [Alto] 7 [pies] / [Ancho] 13 [pies] 5 [pulgs.]

Pinturas que posee la Real Academia de San Fernando. Núm. 67.
Noticia de las pinturas que posee la Real Academia de San Fernando según el orden de su numeración [1796-1805] 67 / El Juicio de Paris Original de Rubens quatro varas de ancho y dos y tercia de alto marco color de oro y filetes dorado donativo del Rey N.S

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Buen Retiro, 1701-1703. Núm. s.n..
{235} Una Pinttura de seis Varas de largo y dos ymedia de alto de las fabulas de las Tres Diosas y Juiçio de Paris Original de Pedro Pablo Rubenes con marco negro tasada en quattroçientos y Çinquentta doblones......27.000

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in white. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

235 [ muy borrado]
Inscribed in white. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

06.06.2020 - 25.07.2021

Rubens. The Power of Transformation
08.02.2018 - 03.06.2018

Rubens. The Power of Transformation
18.10.2017 - 21.01.2018

05.11.2010 - 23.01.2011

Location +

Room 029 (On Display)


Displayed objects +



Farming Implements / Ranching Implements / Fishing Implements / Hunting Implements

Update date: 03-09-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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