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‘The Judgment of Paris’

This painting of 'The Judgment of Paris' is by an unknown Netherlandish artist from about 1600. It is painted using oil paints on an oak panel. 

We can only begin to understand a painting and put it in context when we know its date, particularly if the artist is unknown, but finding this out can be difficult. 

The subject of The Judgment of Paris has been painted many times, which does not help to date the painting. Also the materials and technique used only give a very broad date range. This painting was traditionally believed to date from around 1600, based mainly on the hairstyle of Aphrodite - the woman who is receiving the apple. 

Conservators have examined the wooden panel to get a more scientific basis for the date. It is painted on four oak planks. The wooden spars on the back are not original and were added in the 19th century. Tree ring dating results give an earliest date of 1589 for the felling of the trees used to make the planks, allowing for missing sapwood and bark. The painting is likely to have been made between 1589 and 1621. We also found that the timber came from the Baltic, within modern day Poland.

Find out more about Dendrochronology, the study of tree ring dating, on this website.

Accession number WAG 825