In observing the 'triumphal return' of the academic school of painting, as reflected in a growing number of academic conferences devoted to individual representatives of the movement (including the British or British-based painters Frederick Leighton, Lawrence Alma Tademie and Albert Moore), publications, museum exhibitions, as well as rapid increases in the value of the pictures themselves, the author suggests a fashion for Classicism and the ideals associated with it is currently under way that may be compared to the fascination Western civilisation experienced during the second half of the 19th century. In the context of this revival, it is felt that a new approach to the work of the Polish academic painter Henryk H. Siemiradzki (1843-1902) is long overdue, beginning with the painting presented.The article includes a summary biography of the artist, from his childhood in Belgorod (Russia) and Kharkov in the Ukraine to his maturing as an artist in Rome, which became Siemiradzki's adopted home soon after his graduation at the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. Although this artist was accorded international recognition during his lifetime, his remains having been transferred to a crypt dedicated to famous Polish public figures in Cracow, little more than a monograph from 1904 and a biography printed in 1986 have been published on Siemiradzki. The 100th anniversary of his death passed all but completely ignored in Poland and no exhibition devoted exclusively to the painter's works has ever been organised to date. The author contests that the canvas on permanent exhibition in Warsaw's National Museum has been falsely titled. Rather than depicting the actual moment when Paris judges the beauty of Venus (Aphrodite) over that of her contenders, Juno (Hera) and Minerva (Athena), it in fact portrays a scene which he defines as 'The Triumph of Venus following her choice as the most beautiful of goddesses'. Apart from the comparatively little research devoted to the artist, reference is also made to the significance attached to the judgment of Paris in European art in general, as well as Siemiradzki's work in particular, which, apart from the celebrated monumental composition for the curtain of the Lvov Opera House, included a design for the Slowacki Theatre in Cracow that drew on the same theme.
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