Alessandro Turchi, also known as l’Orbetto, began his career in Verona, where he established a monumental figure style executed increasingly with softly modeled brushwork. During this early period, Turchi painted works for Verona’s Accademia Filarmonica and Goldsmiths’ Guild. He studied in Venice around 1615, and then settled in Rome. After working successfully alongside Giovanni Lanfranco (1582–1647) and Carlo Saraceni (1579–1620) in the Quirinal Palace in 1616, Turchi enjoyed a prestigious Roman career, painting for some of the period’s most prestigious patrons, including the Giusti and Borghese families. In 1637, Cardinal Francesco Barberini (1597–1679) sponsored Turchi’s position as Principe, or director, of Rome’s Accademia di San Luca.The Painting: The Judgment of Paris
is a mature, Roman work characterized by Turchi’s monumental, classicized figures presented in a frieze-like arrangement softened by carefully blended brushwork, particularly in the modeling of the flesh and draperies. At left, Hermes and Paris consider the beauty of Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena, whose interlaced figures offer the viewer three angles of the nude female body. The head of Medusa found on Athena’s shield brackets the gazes aimed at the women, but also hints at the goddess’s own might. A sleeping dog and three goats, indicative of the Arcadian setting, lead the eye into an otherwise little developed landscape background; Hera’s attribute, the peacock, appears at her feet.
The format and composition, including tight cropping and the figures’ sculptural stasis even as they gesture to one another, are closely comparable to a group of four mythological subjects from the late 1630s painted for Turchi’s important Veronese patron, Gaspare Gherardini. That group, described in 1718 by Bartolomeo Dal Pazzo, included a Judgment of Paris
that has not survived but is known through an etching by Gaetano Zancon (1771–1816). The figure of Hera in The Met’s painting is also comparable to the figure representing Diana in Turchi’s Bacchus and Ariadne
(Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg), generally dated to the mid-1630s. Daniella Scaglietti Kelescian dates The Met’s painting to the late 1630s based on comparison with Turchi’s Cleopatra’s Suicide
(private collection) and Death of Marcantonio and Cleopatra
(Musée du Louvre, Paris), both of which exhibit an even greater interest in a softly modeled paint surface. The latter was Turchi’s contribution to a prestigious commission for the Parisian hôtel by Louis Phélypeaux de la Vrillière (1599–1681) in which leading artists, including Guido Reni (1575–1642), Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665), Pietro da Cortona (1596–1669), and Saraceni were assigned antiquarian themes.
Turchi painted the subject of The Judgment of Paris
throughout his career, often with loose reference to Marcantonio Raimondi’s celebrated engraving after Raphael (19.74.1
). The scale and materials of at least three of Turchi’s versions, including an oil on slate (private collection) and two oils on copper (lost and Gemäldegalerie, Kassel), indicate their popularity for collectors cabinets. Early in his Roman career, Turchi painted a large oil on canvas of the subject (Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden) that was destroyed during World War II. A drawing attributed to Turchi (Galleria Este, Modena) may have been the one of the “quattro dissegni per li suoi quadri” presented for approval to Gherardini for his very large, oil on canvas version in the late 1630s.
David Pullins 2020
 Scaglietti Kelescian 2019, pp. 293–96, no. 167. On Gherardini and Turchi, also see Davide Dossi, “Gaspare Gherardini, ‘particolar Padrone, e Protettore’ di Alessandro Turchi,” Storia dell’arte,
no. 139 (2014) pp. 38–47.
 Scaglietti Kelescian, p. 388.
 Scaglietti Kelescian, p. 47, no. 18; p. 55, no. 23; p. 108, no. 55.
 Scaglietti Kelescian, p. 55, no. 23; p. 108, no. 55.
 Scaglietti Kelescian, p. 294 and p. 432, no. PD70.