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Paris and Helen

Jacques Louis David French

Not on view

Painted for the king’s younger brother, the comte d’Artois, The Loves of Paris and Helen is dated 1788— the year before the storming of the Bastille (the royal fortress and prison in Paris), one of the events leading to the downfall of the French monarchy.

Reflecting the tastes of his patron, David placed the besotted young lovers in an elegant interior, a composition he had developed in a series of ink and wash drawings. This oil sketch anticipates the luminous effect of the finished canvas, although David would go on to change the colors of many individual areas.

Paris and Helen, Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels), Oil on canvas

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