Name of Object:

The Rape of Helen


Governor’s Palace, Brno, Moravia, Czech Republic

Holding Museum:

Moravian Gallery, Brno

 About Moravian Gallery, Brno, Governor’s Palace, Brno

Date of Object:


Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Johann Georg Platzer (1704, St. Michael-1761, St. Michael)

Museum Inventory Number:

A 990

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Oil on metal


H: 40.7 cm; w: 59.7 cm


Private owner, Brno

Type of object:


Place of production:



Paris's kidnap of Helen, the beautiful wife of the king of Sparta, opens Homer's Iliad, an epic of the Trojan War. For artists, it provided a frequent source of moral, historical and entertaining scenes from the renaissance onwards.
The drama of the event that led to the destruction of Troy is conveyed in detailed rendering of multiple figures moving through the picture area. Brutal, gory scenes are omitted; the artist presents the event as a theatrical spectacle. The suspense of the scene is enhanced by the presence of the elements: the wind blowing the flags, Helen's vermilion-red attire and pushing the sails of fleeing ships, and the sea. The ancient architecture of the harbour, with Tuscan columns and obelisks, was standard in the repertoire of 18th-century decorative painting. The warrior with erect shield on the left paraphrases Lysippus's “Borghese Warrior”, a staple object of study at art academies. The counterpart picture of The Rape of Helen was The Rape of the Sabines, a legend associated with the foundation of Rome and, according to Virgil, the continuation of Troy.
Detailed narrative cabinet pictures with a host of figures are typical of the oeuvre of this academic Viennese painter who, together with Franz Janneck, specialised in the kind of decorative paintings favoured by art collectors. Inspired by Dutch 17th-century painting and, in particular, by Rudolphine mannerism, Platzer coined an original style, highlighting the sensory qualities of surfaces and things with scattered light and contrasting colours.

View Short Description

A detailed narrative cabinet picture, typical of this academic Viennese painter. Inspired by Dutch 17th-century painting, in particular by Rudolphine mannerism, he coined an original style highlighting the sensory qualities of surfaces and things with scattered light and contrasting colours.

Current Owner:

Moravian Gallery, Brno

How date and origin were established:

Marked PG bottom left on the warrior’s shield.

How Object was obtained:

Acquired around 1940 from a private owner in Brno.

Selected bibliography:

Gothard Agath, Johann Georg Platzer. Ein Geselschaftsmaler Wiener Barocks (1704–1761), Belvedere 8, 1929, pp. 79–83.
Vlasta Kratinová, Barock in Mähren, Wien, 1988, p. 66, cat. 39.
Ulrich Becker (ed), Delikatesse der Malerei. Meisterwerke von Johann Georg Platzer, Graz, 2007, pp. 100–101, cat. 19.

Citation of this web page:

Zora Wörgötter "The Rape of Helen" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2021.;BAR;cz;Mus11;27;en

Prepared by: Zora Wörgötter
Copyedited by: Jiří Kroupa
Translation by: Irma Charvátová
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: CZ 28