Paris and Helen

Jacques Louis David French

Not on view

This sketch is an early study for David’s painting, The Loves of Paris and Helen, 1788 (Musée du Louvre, Paris). It was inspired by a pair of figures in a tracing made from an illustration depicting an ancient vase in the collection of William Hamilton, the British ambassador to Naples. 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 David to make this quick sketch in black chalk directly on the album page opposite the tracing, swapping Paris’s spear for a zither and resting Helen’s arm on his shoulder.

Paris and Helen, Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels), Black chalk

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