Commissioned by the Comte d’Angiviller, Directeur des Bâtiments du Roi, in 1776, Vien began work sometime before September as, on the 11th of that month, the artist wrote to Angiviller that he had already completed a preparatory sketch.3 By the beginning of January 1778, the painting was finished and presented at the Palazzo Mancini, at that time the home of the French Academy in Rome, where it was much admired. Eight months later, it was sent to Paris to be exhibited at the Salon of 1779 and was favorably reviewed by the critics. Shortly before the Paris exhibition, Angiviller wrote to Vien expressing his delight with the painting: “I can hardly express to you how much pleasure it has given me, and to all the artists who were present when the box was opened. Although seen for the first time in my study, decorated as you know by Rubens, Titian, Guido, etc., it did not seem to me to suffer compared to such formidable neighbors. It will take a place in my study deserving of one of the best productions of one of the masters who does the most honor to the French School."4
1. The others are Hector Urging Paris to Take Up Arms, 1779, Musée National du Château de Fontainebleau; The Family of Coriolanus Imploring Him not to Besiege Rome, 1779, Musée Granet, Aix-au-Provence; and Briseis Led from the Tent of Achilles, 1781, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Arras.
2 C.B. Bailey, in The Loves of the Gods, Mythological Painting from Watteau to David, exhibition catalogue, Paris 1991, p. 495.
3. See T. Gaetghen and J. Lugand, under Literature, p. 195, cat. no. 239, possibly identifiable with the sketch that was in the Rosset sale 11 April 1973, lot 301 which is listed in Gaetghen and Lugand on p. 196, cat. no. 240.
4. "J'ai peine à vous exprimer combien de plaisir il m'a fait, ainsi qu'à tous les artistes qui ont assisté à l'ouverture de la caisse. Quoique vu pour la première fois dans mon cabinet, tapissé comme vous le savez de Rubens, de Titien, de Guide, etc..., il ne m'a point paru souffrir d'un voisinage si redoutable. Il tiendra dans mon cabinet la place que mérite une des meilleures productions d'un des maîtres qui font le plus d'honneur à l'Ecole française;" see A. de Montaiglon and J. Guiffrey, Correspondance des directeurs de l'Académie de France à Rome ..., Paris, 1887-1912, Vol XIV, pp. 9 and 110.
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