, 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 historical and mythological scenes in which patriotic values rise above family bonds. This painting, depicting a story from the Trojan War, shows the consequences of the Mycenaean king Agamemnon 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 sent a message that she was to marry the warrior Achilles. Depicted here is the moment when Iphigenia and her mother, Clytemnestra, realize the horrible truth. Agamemnon, dressed in armor, enters and stands at the door on the right. Achilles, with his spear raised, leads a band of men to seize Iphigenia, who clings to her mother with a terrified sister. A 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-priest 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.