Paris and Helen

Object Details

Title:

Paris and Helen

Artist/Maker(s):

Jacques-Louis David (French, 1748 - 1825)

Culture:

French

Date:

1786

Medium:

Pen and black ink and brush and gray wash

Dimensions:

18.3 x 22.9 cm (7 3/16 x 9 in.)

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Capturing Greek legend's view of Paris and Helen as the perfection of beautiful manhood and the symbol of womanly beauty and sexual attraction, Jacques-Louis David painted the fabled pair of lovers at ease in their love nest. The subject is love, expressed by the presence of Cupid and the drawing's sensuality, rather than Paris's abduction of Helen or the Trojan War that ensued as a result.

As early as 1786, the comte d'Artois, brother to kings Louis XVI and Louis XVIII, commissioned a painting on this subject from David. David worked on the painting for at least two years and completed it in 1788. In this drawing and others, he developed a serene composition with affectionate gestures and a lavishly furnished antique setting. The composition and emotional tone of the final painting remained very similar, though Cupid and the tall lamp were eliminated.

Provenance

Jean-Guillaume Miotte, French, 1746 - 1810

June 7, 1810

M. Coutan, (Moitte sale, Paris, lot 20)

April 19, 1830

[J.?] Dumont, (Coutan sale, Paris, lot 182)

Februrary 13, 1854

M. Flury-Herard, (Dumont sale, Paris, lot 118)

May 13, 1861

Thomas de Dreux, (Flury-Herard sale, Paris, lot 465 bis)

February 4, 1870

Private Collection, (Dreux sale, Paris, lot 28)

March 22, 1983

Hôtel Drouot, lot 2

Exhibitions
Jacques-Louis David, 1748 - 1825 (October 26, 1989 to February 12, 1990)
  • Musée du Louvre, (Paris), October 26, 1989 to February 12, 1990, (Cat. Catalogue by A. Schnapper, et. al. 83)
Visions of Antiquity: Neo-Classical Figure Drawings (July 22 to September 19, 1993)
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, (Los Angeles), July 22 to September 19, 1993, (Cat. Catalogue by R.J. Campbell and V. Carlson 39)
18th and 19th Century Drawings (March 15 to May 29, 1994)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), March 15 to May 29, 1994, (Cat.)
Classicism and Neoclassicism in French Drawing, 1600-1860 (October 25, 1994 to January 8, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), October 25, 1994 to January 8, 1995, (Cat.)
French Drawings from the Age of Greuze (September 10 to December 1, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), September 10 to December 1, 2002, (Cat.)
A Revolutionary Age: Drawing in Europe, 1770-1820 (January 18 to May 1, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), January 18 to May 1, 2005, (Cat.)
Recent Acquisitions in Context (January 11 to March 13, 2011)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), January 11 to March 13, 2011, (Cat.)
Gods and Heroes: European Drawings of Classical Mythology (November 19, 2013 to February 9, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 19, 2013 to February 9, 2014, (Cat.)
Related Media
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    Audio: Paris and Helen (Exhibit: GODS_AND_HEROES)