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Group - The Judgement of Paris
  • The Judgement of Paris
    Nollekens, Joseph Frans, born 1737 - died 1823
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The Judgement of Paris

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1803 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Nollekens, Joseph Frans, born 1737 - died 1823 (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 22, The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries, case 2

In this story from classical mythology Paris must judge which of the three goddesses was the most beautiful - Venus, Juno or Minerva. The complex composition of this group allowed the sculptor to display the female nude from different angles and suggests multiple viewpoints. Nollekens also executed separate lifesize marble figures of the three goddesses shown here, which are now housed in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. This terracotta appeared in the sale of Nollekens' studio effects held on 4 July, 1823, where it was sold for £2 10s.
Nollekens was a prolific sculptor of portrait busts and operated a thriving workshop in London. He spent eight years in Rome from 1762 to 1770, where he worked with Bartolomeo Cavaceppi restoring and copying antique marbles. One of these copies, his group of Castor and Pollux, is in the Museum's collection (Museum no. A.59-1940). He probably perfected his modelling of clay while he was in Rome and started to experiment in making small figures or groups. These occasionally became models for large-scale finished marbles, but many, like this one, still in his studio at his death, were simply studies in their own right, which he called pensieri (thoughts).

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1803 (made)


Nollekens, Joseph Frans, born 1737 - died 1823 (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques



Height: 23 cm, Width: 16.5 cm

Object history note

Sold on the second day of Christie's sale of Nollekens's studio effects, held on 4 July 1823, lot 36, and purchased by Nevill for £2 10s. On loan from Mrs. R.M. Pott, from 21 July 1939. Given by Reginald H. Pott in 1955. In 1944 Mrs Pott also gave to the Museum a series of five models for hands, perhaps by Roubiliac, which had formerly been in the possession of her father, the Victorian painter and sculptor Edward Henry Corbould; It is possible therefore that the present piece also formed part of his collection.

Descriptive line

Group, sketch model, terracotta, The Judgement of Paris, by Joseph Nollekens, English, ca. 1803

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Bilbey, Diane and Trusted, Marjorie. British Sculpture 1470-2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2002, pp. 105-106, cat.no. 144
Penny, N., "Lord Rockingham's Sculpture Collection and the Judgement of Paris by Nollekens", in: The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, Vol. 19, 1991, pp. 28-29, fig. 29
Kenworthy-Browne, J., "Terracotta models by Joseph Nollekens, R.A.", in: The Sculpture Jpurnal, vol. II, 1998, pp. 72-84, illustr. P. 84
Gunnis, R., Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851, (revised edition, first published London 1953), London, 1968, p. 277




Myths & Legends; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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