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The Judgment of Paris

Marcantonio Raimondi (Italian, Argini (?) ca. 1480–before 1534 Bologna (?))

Artist:
After Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio or Santi) (Italian, Urbino 1483–1520 Rome)
Date:
ca. 1510–20
Medium:
Engraving
Dimensions:
sheet: 11 7/16 x 17 3/16 in. (29.1 x 43.7 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1919
Accession Number:
19.74.1
  • Description

    One of the great masterpieces of Renaissance printmaking, The Judgment of Paris represents a high point in the collaboration between the painter Raphael and the engraver Marcantonio. While Marcantonio sometimes worked from drawings created for other projects, in this case Raphael created the drawing for the sole purpose of having it engraved by Marcantonio. Drawings done, as Vasari tells us, "to please himself," gave Raphael a forum in which to explore the ancient motifs that so fascinated him, while the process of printing ensured that Raphael's private research would be known to a wide audience.

    The scene depicted here is the incident that sparked the Trojan War, when Paris (as the world's handsomest man) was forced to choose which of the goddesses, Juno (the Greek Hera), Minerva (Athena), or Venus (Aphrodite), was the most beautiful. All the goddesses bribed Paris, but Venus-promising that Paris would have the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Troy, as his reward-took the laurel.

    In illustrating this ancient myth, Raphael drew inspiration from the relief sculpture found on two ancient Roman sarcophagi (stone burial caskets). Marcantonio's controlled and systematic line, curving around the figures, beautifully conveys the sculptural quality that Raphael sought. The rich areas of gray tone were created through an unusual procedure: before engraving the lines, Marcantonio roughened the metal plate with pumice, so that all areas not later burnished smooth hold some of the ink in their textured surface.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: monogram: MAF, inscription: (right bottom) RAPH. VRBI / INVEN, (left bottom) SORDENT PRARE FORMA / INGENIVM. VIRTVS. / REGNA. AVRVM

    Marking: Stamped with the mark of Earl Spencer (Lugt 1532) in black ink at lower right.

  • Provenance

    Collection of Earls Spencer (Althorp)

  • Exhibition History

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," April 5, 1993–July 12, 1993.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," April 14, 1997–July 20, 1997.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," January 5, 1998–March 8, 1998.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," February 26, 2013–May 20, 2013.

  • Catalogue Raisonné

    Bartsch XIV.197.245; Delaborde 114; Shoemaker and Broun 146.43; first state of two

  • References

    Grazia Bernini Pezzini, Stefania Massari, Simonetta Prosperi Valenti Rodinò, Instituto Nazionale per la Grafica Raphael Invenit: stampe da Raffaello nelle collezioni dell'Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica. Quasar , Rome, Rome, 1985, cat. no. Mito II.1, p. 242, ill.

    Stefania Massari Tra mito e allegoria: immagini a stampa nel '500 e '600. Rome, 1989, cat. no. 7, pp. 22-29, ill.

    Clay Dean, Theresa Fairbanks, Lisa Pon, Yale University Art Gallery Changing Impressions: Marcantonio Raimondi and Sixteenth-Century Print Connoisseurship. Ex. cat. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, December 14, 1999 - February 13, 2000, cat. no. 24, p. 78.



  • See also
337058

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