OIL PAINTING: Phryne before the Areopagus
This painting is called "Phryne before the Areopagus" by Jean-Leon Gerome. The story tells about Alcippe , the daughter of Ares (God of War) and Aglauros. She was raped by a son of Poseidon. Ares immediately killed the rapist, and was brought on trial by the other gods. It was the first murder trial. After the facts were laid out, and they heard what happened to Alcippe, Ares was quickly aquitted. Alcippe was also called Phryne.
Viewed separately from the context of the composition, Gerome's Phryne was admired for displaying the flawless draughtsmanship and classical sculptural qualities of the French nude. The figure is reminiscent of Pradier's marble
Phryne exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851, not to mention Ingre's La Source. The painting entered the collection of Heinrich Schroder, the German proprietor of a London banking firm, but became widely known through engraved and sculpted reproductions. The controversy over the narrative implications of the painting
seems to have encouraged English painters of the nude to concentrate on the classical figure in isolation. However, the combination of technical mastery and sensationalism displayed here was
ultimately to prove irresistible, influencing a later generation of British painters to study in France (Gerome was a Professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts from 1863) and to establish their reputations at home with dramatic archaeological nude subjects.