This large painting was purchased by a former student of Grell’s in the late 1970’s from the Jim Romano Galleries of Chicago. Illinois Governor Jim Thompson made an offer on this painting, however, the former student wanted it more and made a larger offer acquiring it before the Governor could close his deal. The seller owned the painting until 2014. Judgment of Paris is believed to be part of a series of ten different mythological large scenes painted by Grell over his lifetime. The Louis Grell Foundation owns, Neptune, 1956, believed to be part of this same series and possibly the last of the ten painted by Grell.
In Grell’s composition, Paris is shown giving the Golden Apple to Aphrodite for her gift of Helen to Paris, which started the Trojan War.
oil on canvas, 55.5″ x 48.5″
Provenance = Artist, artists’ wife, Jim Romano Galleries, Current Owner to buyer at auction
It is recounted that Zeus held a banquet in celebration of the marriage of Peleus and Thetis (parents of Achilles). However, Eris, goddess of discord was not invited, for she would have made the party unpleasant for everyone. Angered by this snub, Eris arrived at the celebration with a golden apple from the Garden of the Hesperides, which she threw into the proceedings, upon which was the inscription καλλίστῃ (kallistēi, “for the fairest one”).
Three goddesses claimed the apple: Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. They asked Zeus to judge which of them was fairest, and eventually he, reluctant to favour any claim himself, declared that Paris, a Trojan mortal, would judge their cases, for he had recently shown his exemplary fairness in a contest in which Ares in bull form had bested Paris’s own prize bull, and the shepherd-prince had unhesitatingly awarded the prize to the god.
Thus it happened that, with Hermes as their guide, the three candidates bathed in the spring of Ida, then confronted Paris on Mount Ida in the climactic moment that is the crux of the tale. While Paris inspected them, each attempted with her powers to bribe him; Hera offered to make him king of Europe and Asia, Athena offered wisdom and skill in war, and Aphrodite, who had the Charites and the Horai to enhance her charms with flowers and song (according to a fragment of the Cypria quoted by Athenagoras of Athens), offered the world’s most beautiful woman (Euripides, Andromache, l.284, Helena l. 676). This was Helen of Sparta, wife of the Greek king Menelaus. Paris accepted Aphrodite’s gift and awarded the apple to her, receiving Helen as well as the enmity of the Greeks and especially of Hera. The Greeks’ expedition to retrieve Helen from Paris in Troy is the mythological basis of the Trojan War.