From beauty to war: Reproducing The Judgement of Paris
The Judgement of Paris (1510–1520) is an engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi (c.1470–c.1534) after a drawing by Raphael (1483–1520). It elicited many keen glances and enthusiastic comments from audiences when it was brought out for both public programs and classes at the Baillieu Library recently.
It also proved to be a popular image during and after it was made in the 16th century; some scholars claim that it is the most famous engraving of the Renaissance. It was also sought out by collectors and the Baillieu Library Print Collection holds three different copies of this one image.
When it emerges from the safety of its storage box, it is typically examined in the context of two key questions: what is it depicting, and what is its significance? One academic recently described it as the forerunner to the Trojan War: a startling contrast to its main subject of a beauty contest. Many of the great ancient world figures are gathered in this scene; the title role plays out at left where the Trojan Paris judges the beauty of the goddesses Athena (Minerva), Hera (Juno) and Aphrodite (Venus). Aphrodite emerges the winner because she offers the most desirable bribe, promising Paris the most beautiful mortal in the world, Helen of Troy, wife of Menelaos, King of Sparta.
Image: Marcantonio Raimondi after a drawing by Raphael, The Judgement of Paris, 1510–1520. Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959