Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

The Sacrifice of Polyxena

Artist:
Giovanni David (Italian, Cabella Ligure 1749–1790 Genoa)
Date:
1776
Medium:
Etching
Dimensions:
plate: 8 3/4 x 11 15/16 in. (22.2 x 30.3 cm) sheet: 10 1/4 x 13 9/16 in. (26 x 34.4 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
Purchase, Anonymous Gift, 1998
Accession Number:
1998.386
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 690
According to Greek legend, the warrior Achilles fell in love with Polyxena, daughter of King Priam of Troy. She was promised to him in marriage if he agreed to end the war between the Greeks and the Trojans. Achilles was ambushed by Polyxena’s brothers, however, who shot a poisoned arrow in his heel—hence the expression “Achilles heel,” a point of vulnerability. Before he died, Achilles ordered that the treacherous Polyxena (shown in the lower right) be sacrificed at his tomb.

The artist made this print in Genoa, where he was patronized by the wealthy Durazzo family. It comes from a series of six depicting scenes from history and literature and dedicated to Countess Durazzo.
Vendor: C. G. Boerner LLC, New York
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," July 19, 2016–October 24, 2016.

Andresen HB I.332.3.5; Boerner 2000, p. 2
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