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In Greek legend, the beautiful Helen was the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta. Her affair with the Trojan prince, Paris, led to the Trojan War.Westall painted this picture for Thomas Hope, a fabulously wealthy collector of the antique and of selected contemporary art. Hope’s taste ran from strict neo-classicism to Romantic exoticism. The rooms of his London house were furnished and decorated to reflect various regions of the ancient world – Egypt and India as well as Greece and Rome. Westall modelled the figure of Helen on a Greek statue in Hope’s collection.

May 2007