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Paris Presenting Helen at the Court of Priam

Paris Presenting Helen at the Court of Priam, early 18th century

Gerard Hoet
Dutch, 1648-1733
Oil on copper
22 x 26-3/4 in. (55.9 x 67.9 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

Not on View

One of the preeminent Dutch painters of classical subjects, Gerard Hoet carefully arranged the composition, lighting, and figures to convey the stateliness of the narrative and to underscore the theme’s derivation from the ancient past. The drama takes place before a monumental, classically inspired building. Each protagonist’s gesture is orchestrated to suggest emotions appropriate to the narrative which unfolds parallel to the picture plane as if it were presented on a stage. Here, Paris has returned to his home with Helen of Troy, the wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta, who is reputed to be the most beautiful woman in the world. The young pair is greeted at the front of the palace by Paris’s father King Priam, and by his mother Hecuba. This particular interpretation likely derives from a description of Paris’s homecoming, written by Raoul Lefevre in his “Receuil des Histoires de Troie,” from 1640. The book was popular throughout Europe and it was reprinted over the centuries and translated into several languages.

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