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The Judgement of Paris

  • Object:

    Panel-relief

  • Place of origin:

    Bavaria (Salzburg, Passau or Regensburg, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1530 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Master I. P. (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved relief in pearwood

  • Museum number:

    4528-1858

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64, The Wolfson Gallery, case 7

The subject of this relief is derived from a medieval romance, Historia destructionis Troiae by Guido da Colonna, written in 1287 and based on an older French history of Troy. This was later widely disseminated in printed books throughout Europe. The Dream of Paris was widely represented in art in the first half of the 16th century.

The present relief, probably made for a collector, is attributed to the workshop of the anonymous carver who signed some exquisite pearwood small-scale reliefs with the letters I.P. The monogram AD for Albrecht Dürer inscribed on the slab may have been added (almost certainly at a later date) because of its virtuoso technique, perhaps when it entered a cabinet of curiosities.

The rich forest landscape is related to the contemporary painting of the Danube school. The composition is so arranged that the female nude is seen from three positions. Such a relief would have been produced as a virtuoso example of wood carving and included along with medals and other small sculpture in a Kunstkammer or cabinet of curiosities.

Physical description

The relief shows the reclining armed figure of Paris near a well, his horse tethered to a tree in the background. Mercury, also clad in armour, stands next to him. He holds an Apple of Discord in his right hand and seems to address the semi-nude goddess Juno, Minerva and Venus. Venus with flowing hair stands frontally next to Paris, while Juno, depicted from the back, holds a goblet in her left hand. She wears a Venetian hairnet-cap, a chain of pearls around her neck, and a larger chain around her shoulders. Minerva is depicted from the side holding a standard. Cupid, aiming a burning arrow at Paris, emerges from a formation of clouds in the sky above. The scene is set on a rocky ground with lush foliage and a lizard in the foreground, in an open place surrounded by trees with long drooping foliage. In the background is a mountainous landscape with a castle on top of a hill and a deep river valley.
The piece is composed of three sections of wood joined vertically.
Tow cracks run down from the top. The fingers of the Juno's right hand, and the thumb and the finger of Paris's right hand a re missing.

Place of Origin

Bavaria (Salzburg, Passau or Regensburg, made)

Date

ca. 1530 (made)

Artist/maker

Master I. P. (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

Carved relief in pearwood

Dimensions

Height: 23.5 cm, Width: 17.9 cm, Depth: 2.7 cm, Weight: 0.16 kg

Object history note

The Dream of Paris was widely represented in art and discussed in texts in the first half of the 16th century; at least 13 painted versions by Lucas Cranach exist. The present relief was probably made for a collector; the monogram AD for Albrecht Dürer inscribed on the slab may have been added (almost certainly at a later date) because of its virtuoso technique, perhaps when it entered a cabinet of curiosities.

Historical context note

The rich forest landscape is related to the contemporary painting of the Danube school. The composition is so arranged that the female nude is seen from three positions. Such a relief would have been produced as a virtuoso example of wood carving and included along with medals and other small sculpture in a Kunstkammer or cabinet of curiosities.

Descriptive line

Panel-relief, carved pearwood, the Judgement of Paris, probably by the Master I.P., Bavarian (Salzburg, Passau or Regensburg), ca. 1530.

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

Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1858. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 18.
Mende, M. Dürer-Medaillen. Nuremberg, 1983, fig. 42 and p. 104
Sauerlandt, M. Kleinplastik der Deutschen Renaissance. Leipzig, 1927, p. 79
Baxandall, Michael. South German Sculpture, 1480-1530. VAM, London, 1974, p. 74, no. 20.
Jopek, Norbert. German Sculpture 1430-1540, A Catalogue of the Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2002, pp. 122-123, cat.no. 56.

Materials

Pearwood

Techniques

Relief; Carving

Subjects depicted

Trees; Standard; Horse; Apple; Mythology; Goddess; Valley; Cupid; Landscape; Arrow; Castle

Categories

Myths & Legends; Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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