William Roberts 1895 - 1980


Sir Michael Sadler
Leicester Galleries, London
Private Collection, UK


The London Group, 1925, cat no.86 (probably)
London, Leicester Galleries, Exhibition of a Selection of Works from the Collection of Sir Michael Sadler, 1944, cat no.130


In Greek mythology, The Judgement of Paris, is a contest between the three most beautiful goddesses of Olympus for the prize of a golden apple, an event which leads directly to the Trojan war. The story begins with the wedding of Peleus and Thetis to which all the gods are invited except for Eris, goddess of discord. When Eris appears at the festivities she is turned away and in her anger she casts a golden apple amongst the assembled goddesses addressed "To the Fairest." Three goddesses lay claim to the apple - Aphrodite, Hera and Athena. Zeus is asked to mediate and commands Hermes to lead the goddesses to Paris of Troy at Mount Ida to decide the issue. The three appear before the Paris and each offers him gifts in return for the prize. Paris choses Aphrodite, swayed by her promise to deliver Helene, the most beautiful woman in the world, to be his wife. The subsequent abduction of Helene leads directly to the Trojan War.

This Greek myth has inspired countless classical, renaissance and Modern paintings. Some versions of the subject include the figure of Mercury and crowds of onlookers, but here Roberts portrays only the main characters - Paris, who is shown extending his hand to a seated Aphrodite, while Hera and Athena try to attract his attention.

Other classical subjects -
Relationship to his bathers paintings. Closely arranged interlocking figures.

Roberts made another painting on this subject in 1933, which was exhibited in his 1965 retrospective exhibition at the Tate Gallery (cat no.48). The catalogue entry refers to the existence of this earlier painting, which it note was exhibited at the London Group in June 1925 and was 'probably the one later in the collection of Sir Michael Sadler' (Arts Council exhibition catalogue, p.15). A pencil study for the later 1933 painting is in the collection of the Tate Gallery, London.