- Inventory number
- Rubens, Peter Paul
- The Judgement of Paris
- Ca. 1638
- 199 cm x 381 cm
- On display
- Royal Collection (New Royal Palace, Madrid, “estudio de Andrés de la Calleja”, 1772, n. 235; Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, Madrid, “sala reservada”, 1827, n. 67)
The shepherd, Paris, was called on to resolve Minerva, Venus and Juno's argument as to which of them was the most beautiful goddess of all. Paris, son of Priam, was to give a golden apple with the inscription “to the most beautiful” to the one he considered most deserving.
The shepherd sits under a tree, thinking, while the Gods' messenger, Mercury, brings the golden fruit of discord. The goddesses attempt to sway his judgment with their offerings: Minerva, with armor and an owl, announces his success at war; Venus, accompanied by Cupid, offers him the most beautiful woman; and Juno, identified by her peacock, promises him grandeur. He finally chooses Venus, with whose help he kidnaps Helen, provoking the Trojan War and the wrath of the other goddesses, as is told in Homer's Iliad (Iliad, XXIV-XXV).
Rubens painted this work at the end of his life, modeling Venus after his second wife, Hélène Fourment. It is thought that the landscape was painted by Lucas van Uden.
The Cardinal Infante commissioned this work for Felipe IV and by 1653 it was hanging in the Buen Retiro Palace.