This highly polished decorative painting with its elaborately posed figures represents Court taste at the beginning of the eighteenth century. It was bought for a large sum by the Duc d'Orléans, cousin to the king of France, in 1718.
Paris, a Trojan prince of outstanding beauty himself, was invited to judge in a beauty contest between three goddesses, Venus, Juno and Minerva. He awarded the prize of a golden apple to Venus, goddess of love, shown here accompanied by her doves and her son Cupid. In doing so, he of course offended the other contestants and the divine battle-lines for the ensuing Trojan War were duly drawn. Mercury, messenger of the gods, looks on pensively from the shadows.