The Judgment of Paris, Niklaus Manuel Deutsch

The Judgment of Paris (in German, Das Urteil des Paris) is a painting made by the Swiss painter Niklaus Manuel.

It measures 223 cm high and 160 cm wide and is painted in tempera on canvas.

It dates from 1516-1528 and is housed in the Basel Museum of Art.

Niklaus Manuel (also known as Niklaus Manuel Deutsch, that is, German) is a Swiss painter.

Initiated in the Gothic tradition, it denotes the influence of the  Danube school,  marked by energetic graphics and strong chromaticism.

In the last stage of his work he shows the influence of the Italian Renaissance, especially of the Lombard school, which is denoted in more monumental and balanced compositions.

Niklaus Manuel Deutsch or Niklaus Manuel, 1484 -1530, a Swiss dramaturg, painter, engraver and statesman, woodcut from the year 1882, digital improved. (Photo by: Bildagentur-online/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

 Within this stage is The Judgment of Paris, one of his masterpieces.

The painting represents the judgment of Paris, one of the most famous episodes in Greek mythology.

Paris, youngest son of King Priam of Troy, is chosen to settle the dispute between the goddesses Athena, Hera and Aphrodite, confronted over which of the three was the most beautiful at the request of the goddess of discord, Eris, who at the wedding de Peleo y Tetis offers the golden apple for the most beautiful, without specifying which of them.

Paris chooses Aphrodite, and her reward is the love of Helen, wife of King Menelaus of Sparta, whose abduction provokes the Trojan War.

Among the classical authors who deal with this subject are Homer and Ovid (The metamórphoses).

In the image they appear,  Hera, naked, only  covered with a blúish ríbbon that surrounds her torso from the left shoulder to the right hip and one of whose ends covers her pubis, dressed in a typical lansquenetes feather hat and with a  shield and a  sword on the right arm; Athena, dressed in a cap and rich dress in the contemporary fashion of the time in which the painting was made; Aphrodite, in  profile,  dressed in a transpárent  veil and wearing a winged cap, already holding the apple of discord in her right hand; and Paris, sitting on a rock, also dressed in contemporary garments, which he has just offered her, so in reality the trial has just happened.

 Hence also Hera’s gesture of disappointment.

The  fígures are reminiscent of ideal Gothic beauty, with small breasts and a prominent belly.

Cupid appears among the branches of the tree on the right, like a small  (win)winged child with his eyes covered by a blindfold, holding a bow and arrow.

The upper part is covered by the branches and leaves of the tree, while in the lower part there is an understory vegetation; the background is dark, with a nocturnal setting.

The figure of Paris is a self-portrait of the painter.

Between the branches of the tree there are two coats of arms, one with a blue swan and the other with a white rectangular well, which identify the one who would probably be the principal of the painting, Bendicht Brunner, a rich man from Bern, and his wife Margareta van Schwwanden.

Some characters are identified with legends written on their heads: PARIS VON TROY DER TORECHT (Paris of Troy the fool), IUNO EIN GÖTTIN DER ÜBERWINDUNG INN STRITS (Juno, the goddess who wins in disputes) —Juno is the Roman version of Hera -; FENUS FENUS (Venus, the Roman version of Aphrodite); and CUPIDO.

On the other hand, above the apple it says EN DIESER OP, probable contraction of DIESER OPFEL DER SCHÖNSTEN (this apple for the most beautiful).

The author makes a serious iconographic error: he dressed Hera, the queen of the gods, as a warrior with sword and shield, when the same would have been Athena, the goddess of war.

Instead, Athena appears lavishly dressed, like a venerable matron.

It is evident that both characters are exchanged.

Publicado por ilabasmati

Licenciada en Bellas Artes, FilologÍa Hispánica y lIiteratura Inglesa.

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