Giovanni Battista Tiepolo - The Abduction of Helen of Troy

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo - The Abduction of Helen of Troy

View the drawing in detail

The Abduction of Helen of Troy

ca. 1740?

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770)

The striking pen strokes of this turbulent illustration of the abduction of Helen, which was to trigger the Trojan War, are sketched over the initial lines executed in red chalk. The Spartan queen is borne forcibly to the sloop that was to carry her to Troy and her marriage to Paris. The surging lines, full of motion, evoke the violent emotions aroused by this event quite naturally.

This drawing was purchased for the Prints Department as work by an anonymous Italian master. Nonetheless, the quality of its execution is indisputable and several specialists have recognised the hand of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo in the genius of its lines. This Venetian artist worked in various countries and is regarded as one of the greatest painters of his time. Tiepolo examined the dramatic forces of this scene in several studies. Two small oil paintings that place the same subject in a wider framework have survived too, but no larger work has been discovered.

This drawing was studied for the AGORA Drawings on Web project.


Bibliographic description

Materials, technique and dimensions: pen and iron gall ink, brown wash over red chalk, 208 x 302 mm
Inventory number: S.III 15204

Full description



Sale, Brussels (Fiévez), 22 October 1919, lot 294 (as anonymous Italian)



De Giorgione à Tiepolo. Dessins italiens du 15e au 18e siècle dans les collections privées et publiques en Belgique, Ixelles (Musée Communal d'Ixelles) 1993, cat. 97