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The Judgement of Paris

Doman (Thomas) Heringc. 1529

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

The relief shows the Judgement of Paris in a variation that had become widespread since the Middle Ages. Here, Paris is not the son of the Trojan king, choosing which of the goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite is the most beautiful and deciding in favour of the last. Instead, he is a knight to whom Mercury and the three goddesses appear in a dream. Presenting the encounter as a dream allowed the decision to be made according to new, moral criteria. Thus it is not the seductive Aphrodite whom the knight chooses but Hera, who is being led to him by Mercury and is wearing a bonnet that according to the fashion of those times was usual for married women. The features of the knight are those of Count Palatinate Ottheinrich, while Hera bears the features of Ottheinrich’s wife, Susanna. They married in 1529, and the relief would have been made for that occasion.

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