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Cornelis van Haarlem (Haarlem, 1562 - Haarlem, 1638)

The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis


All the gods were invited to the wedding of Thetis and Peleus. Eris, goddess of discord, was not invited. But she came anyway, and threw a golden apple labelled ‘for the fairest’ among the guests. In the top left, we see her making her escape after throwing the apple. The Black woman in the bottom right is a striking figure. She wears a cloth with the Greek word for ‘deeds’ (‘praxeis’). It is not clear what this means.

In the back right, we see the Trojan prince Paris deciding who is the fairest. He chooses Venus, the goddess of love, who promises him the fairest woman in the world, Helen, who is already married. Her husband is of course furious when Paris elopes with her, and advances on Troy with an army to take his revenge, thus sparking the Trojan War (12th or 13th century BC). The Haarlem city magistrates commissioned this painting for their guest accommodation, with a clear message for guests: avoid conflict.

  • Creator

    Cornelis van Haarlem (Haarlem, 1562 - Haarlem, 1638)

  • Title

    The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis

  • Date


  • Collection

    Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem / bruikleen Mauritshuis, Den Haag

  • Material

    Oil paint on canvas | H246 x W419 cm


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