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Helen Brought to Paris

1776 Benjamin West Born: Springfield, Pennsylvania 1738 Died: London, England 1820 oil on canvas 56 3/8 x 75 3/8 in. (143.3 x 198.3 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase 1969.33 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, East Wing


Gallery Label

Benjamin West was in a complicated position as painter to King George III. He was an American who had made his reputation with classical scenes painted for English aristocrats and royalty. Yet, in a court ruled by strict etiquette, West and the king had many frank conversations about the tensions brewing in the American colonies. The union of Helen and Paris led to the Trojan war, and the shadow falling over Cupid's face at the center of this painting may reflect West's fear of war between the monarch and his subjects across the Atlantic.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006

Keywords

History - United States - Revolution

Mythology - classical - Cupid

Mythology - classical - Helen

Mythology - classical - Paris

Mythology - classical - Venus

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Benjamin West

Born: Springfield, Pennsylvania 1738 Died: London, England 1820

More works in the collection by
Benjamin West

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