, French, 1770 - 1837
Title:Clytemnestra Receiving the News of Iphigenia's Impending Sacrifice
Medium:oil on canvas
Dimensions:30 1/2 x 38 1/4 in. (77.5 x 97.2 cm)
Credit Line:Museum purchase
Label Copy: French neoclassical paintings of the late 1700s often represent stories from history and mythology in which patriotic values supersede family bonds and a reaction to a crisis elicits strongly divergent emotional reactions of men and women, thus establishing the narrative tension. This story from the Trojan War shows the consequences of the Mycenaean king Agamemnon's offending the goddess Artemis, who retaliated by stopping the winds in the Athenian harbor and stranding the Greek navy on its way to fight Troy. To appease the goddess and allow the navy to sail, Agamemnon was ordered to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia. In a ruse to lure the unsuspecting girl to the island of Aulis, Agamemnon said she was to marry the warrior Achilles. Here we see the moment when the girl and her mother Clytemnestra realize the horrible truth. Agamemnon enters the room on the right with a band of men to seize Iphigenia, who, with a terrified sister, clings to their mother. The statue of the offended goddess Artemis, holding a dagger suggesting the impending sacrifice, has been knocked to the ground. To the far left, the slave Calchas prepares a fire on an altar.
Provenance: Private collection, southwest France, by around 1830. Purchased December 16, 2002 through (Blondeau & Associés, Paris) by Duke University Museum of Art, now Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
© 2000-2012 Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Unauthorized use is prohibited. Terms and conditions