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The Hesperides were the three daughters of Hesperus, the evening star. They tended a tree of golden apples on the slopes of Mount Atlas. Here, the goddess Discord picks one, setting in train the events leading to the Trojan war. The apple was subsequently awarded to the goddess Aphrodite by Paris, after she had promised him the most beautiful woman in the world: the Greek Queen, Helen, wife of Menelaus, whom Paris then abducted. It seems Turner may have been alluding to recent in-fighting at the Royal Academy in his choice of subject.

February 2010