Guy-Patrice and Michel Dauberville have confirmed that this drawing is included in their Bernheim-Jeune archives as an authentic work.
According to Roman mythology, the goddesses Minerva, Juno and Venus each claimed the rights to a golden apple which Discordia threw down in anger, after discovering that she had been excluded from the marriage party of Peleus and Thetis. The golden apple was inscribed 'to the fairest' and the three goddesses appealed to Jupiter to settle the matter. Jupiter refused to decide, and instead sent them to Mount Ida where it befell the young Phyrigian shepherd Paris to make the selection. When he finally selected Venus, he provoked the ire of the other two, and was forced to flee to Sparta. There, Paris became enchanted with Helen, the wife of King Menelaus. The two later eloped to Troy, setting the stage for the Trojan War.
The present drawing depicts the exact moment when Paris announces his choice of Venus as the fairest of the three goddesses, heightening the visual impact and drama of the narrative. The artist has paid close attention to the corporeal qualities of the three women, fashioning his line with sanguine, the red chalk favored by Watteau, Boucher, and Fragonard in the previous century. At this late moment in his career, Renoir had come to understand drawing not as an occasional or preparatory activity, but as a process complete in and of itself. The artist's lines are long, continuous, and flowing, uniting form with gesture in a naturally spontaneous expression.
John Rewald has written, "Thus the human bodies, which he conceived as sensuous and generous, overflow their outlines and radiate into space. Line is no longer a limit which separates an object from its surroundings, it is, in the contrary, the medium that unites them. If it sets off a voluminous form against its background, it also creates between background and form that suggestion of space which gives the body its expansive roundness, its plenitude" (Renoir Drawings, New York, 1946, p. 14).