Aphrodite Offering Helen to Paris by Henry Ryland RI, 1856-1924. Signed, inscribed on the reverse. Watercolour on paper. 1905. 23 1/4 x 31 1/4 inches, 59.40 x 79.50 centimetres.
In this work, Henry Ryland depicts a scene following the famous wedding feast in Homer's Iliad. Eris, who was jealous at not having been invited to the banquet, threw a golden apple into the crowds bearing the inscription 'for the fairest'. A quarrel arose between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite who each claimed the apple for themselves. Eventually, they agreed to make the lowly shepherd Paris the arbiter of their dispute and each offered him bribes. Paris crowned Aphrodite after she promised him Helen, the wife of Menelaus and the most beautiful woman in the world.
Ryland paints Aphrodite and Helen reclining on a bank in a peaceful grassy glade draped in graceful folds of cloth. The doves in the trees refer to Aphrodite's journey where she was escorted by doves from Phoenecia to Greece by way of Cyprus. — Peter Nahum
Nahum, Peter. A century of Master Drawings, Watercolours, & Works in Egg Tempera. London: Peter Nahum at Leicester Galleries, nd.
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Last modified 24 September 2001