The Sacrifice of Polyxena

Charles Le Brun French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 622

As recounted by the ancient Roman poet Ovid, a compliant Polyxena is led to her death at a sacrificial altar to appease the ghost of the war hero Achilles. Le Brun painted this work the year after his return to Paris from studying in Rome and just a year prior to the founding of the French Royal Academy, which he would soon head. It captures the highbrow artistic ideals of seventeenth-century French academic painting: beautifully choreographed compositions that relay their narrative through a series of intense facial expressions and dramatic bodily gestures.

The Sacrifice of Polyxena, Charles Le Brun (French, Paris 1619–1690 Paris), Oil on canvas

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