Paris and Oenone

Paris and Oenone


John Flaxman

(British, 1755-1826)

Gray ink wash with pale black-gray ink line with graphite and brown ink

Support: Laid paper

Sheet: 30.3 x 48.8 cm (11 15/16 x 19 3/16 in.); Secondary Support: 35.1 x 53.6 cm (13 13/16 x 21 1/8 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 2008.35



Although he identified himself first and foremost as a sculptor, Flaxman’s greatest fame and most lasting influence rest with his drawings. Engravings made after his spare designs illustrating classical epics by Homer, Dante, and Hesiod became the most celebrated work in his oeuvre and spread his stylized linearity widely. This highly finished, signed and dated drawing was made while Flaxman was in Rome and needed to supplement his income while trying to obtain commissions for sculpture. Flaxman chose an obscure classical subject: the famous Trojan shepherd, Paris, with his first love, the nymph Oenone. The scene takes place on Mount Ida, in an idyllic time of peace before Paris was called upon to judge the beauty of the goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, thus instigating the Trojan War.

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