Paris and Helen (Anonymous Tracing after d ’Hancarville)

circle of Jacques Louis David French

Not on view

The tracing is made from an illustration depicting an ancient vase in the collection of William Hamilton, the British ambassador to Naples in Pierre d’Hancarville, Antiquités étrusques, grecques et romaines tirées du cabinet de M. Hamilton, envoyé extraordinaire et plénipotentiaire de S. M. Britannique en cours de Naples (Naples: François Morelli, 1766–67), vol. 4, pl. 24. According to Rosenberg and Prat (2002, vol. 1, no. 730*, p. 538), the vase depicted in the print was not, in fact, from Hamilton’s collection.

The tracing was pasted into one of the large albums of drawings David created following his return from Italy in 1780. Perusing these albums, presumably a few years later, prompted the artist to make a quick sketch in black chalk (see 2022.____) directly on the album page opposite the tracing, focusing on the figures of Paris and Helen. The figural group would evolve through a series of studies, eventually taking the form of the protagonists in David’s painting, The Loves of Paris and Helen, 1788 (Musée du Louvre, Paris).

Paris and Helen (Anonymous Tracing after d ’Hancarville), circle of Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels), Pen and brown ink, on tracing paper

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