Paris and Helen (1788) by Jacques-Louis David

Paris and Helen - Jacques-Louis David - 1788

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Artwork Information

TitleParis and Helen
ArtistJacques-Louis David
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions146 x 181 cm
Art MovementNeoclassicism
Current LocationLouvre, Paris, France

About Paris and Helen

The artwork “Paris and Helen” by Jacques-Louis David, dated 1788, is a neoclassical oil painting on canvas that measures 146 by 181 centimeters. This mythological painting is part of the collection housed at the Louvre in Paris, France. It captures a moment derived from classical antiquity, embodying the style and themes typical of the neoclassical movement.

The artwork depicts the famous mythological figures Paris and Helen. Paris is seated, partially draped in a classical garment, with a lyre resting on his right thigh, symbolizing his cultural refinement and perhaps referencing his original judgment that led to his receiving Helen as a reward. Helen stands beside him, leaning in with a gesture of intimacy while her attire cascades gently to reveal the contours of her body—an allusion to her renowned beauty and sensuality. The couple is framed by a richly detailed interior that includes classical architectural elements, such as fluted columns and a pediment in the background, which lend gravitas and a sense of place to the scene.

The exquisite detail in the drapery of their garments, the serene yet emotive expressions on their faces, and the masterful use of light and shadow create a harmonious composition. The artwork conveys a tale of love and passion intertwined with destiny and strife, encapsulating important motifs of neoclassical art: a return to classical ideals, excellence in craftsmanship, and a focus on historical and mythological narratives.

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