The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Anthony van Dyck (1599 - 1641)
  • Paris
  • c. 1628
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 96 x 84 cm
    Object size: 140 x 122 x 11.5 cm
  • P85
  • Great Gallery
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The composition of this painting, with its focus on a single three-quarter length figure depicted in a shallow space, is reminiscent of Titian and seventeenth-century Italian painting. It is therefore likely that Van Dyck painted it following his return to Antwerp from Italy, in the late 1620s. The subject is a very original reinterpretation of a mythological story. The shepherd Paris was chosen by Jupiter to choose which of three goddesses (Juno, Minerva and Venus) he considered the most beautiful. His choice of Venus, the goddess of love, precipitated the Trojan War. Paris’s choice was thereafter interpreted as a parable of the dangers and responsibilities of choice. In this painting, Van Dyck chose to depart from convention by excluding the three goddesses and focussing instead on Paris alone, and the fateful nature of his decision. When the 3rd Marquess of Hertford acquired this painting, it was believed to be a self-portrait of the artist. He intended to bequeath it to his friend George IV but the king predeceased him.