Apollo and the Muses on Mount Parnassus

Object Details

Title:

Apollo and the Muses on Mount Parnassus

Artist/Maker(s):

Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594 - 1665)

Culture:

French

Place(s):

France (Place created)

Date:

about 1626 - 1628 or 1631

Medium:

Pen and brown ink, brush with brown wash; small, irregular section at right margin added

Dimensions:

17.6 x 24.6 cm (6 15/16 x 9 11/16 in.)

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The nine Muses, goddesses of poetic inspiration and the creative arts, surround the god Apollo, who plays a lira di braccio. With Homer and Virgil, they gather along the Castalian spring, which flows through the center of the scene. Famous in ancient times as a source of inspiration and learning, this place was appropriate for making music and contemplating the beauty of Mount Parnassus.

Nicolas Poussin created an animated scene full of movement, not only through the composition and arrangement of the figures but also through his drawing style. He based the composition for this drawing on an engraving by Marcantonio Raimoni after Raphael's Parnassus fresco in the Vatican, placing the figure of Apollo to the left of the center. The semi-circular arrangement of the other figures draws the viewer's eye around the scene and up through the trees to the putti in the air. The soft washes contrast with the fine pen lines, giving the drawing a lively sense of three dimensions.

Provenance

Pierre Defer (Paris)

Henri Dumesnil (Paris)

Louis Deglatigny (Rouen)

Georges Wildenstein

Daniel Wildenstein

May 10-12, 1900

Hôtel Drouot, (lot 205)

May 28, 1937

Galerie Jean Charpentier (Paris), (lot 73)

Exhibitions
Early Poussin (September 24 to November 27, 1988)
  • Kimbell Art Museum, (Fort Worth), September 24 to November 27, 1988
Inspiration du poète de Poussin (June 1 to August 31, 1989)
  • Musée du Louvre, (Paris), June 1 to August 31, 1989
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (May 24 to August 8, 1993) (87)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), May 24 to August 8, 1993
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994) (113)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994
Nicolas Poussin 1594 - 1665 (September 27, 1994 to April 9, 1995) (113)
  • Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, (Paris), September 27, 1994 to January 2, 1995
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), January 19 to April 9, 1995
Figural Compositional Drawings from the 16th to the 19th Century (August 31 to December 8, 1996) (113)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), August 31 to December 8, 1996
Raphael and his Influence Across the Centuries (October 31, 2000 to January 7, 2001) (113)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), October 31, 2000 to January 7, 2001
Drawing the Landscape: 1500 - 1800 (January 23 to April 15, 2001) (113)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), January 23 to April 15, 2001
Poussin and Nature (October 8, 2007 to May 11, 2008) (17)
  • Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, October 8, 2007 to January 13, 2008
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), February 12 to May 11, 2008
Capturing Nature's Beauty: Three Centuries of French Landscapes (July 28 to November 1, 2009) (17)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 28 to November 1, 2009
The Secret Life of Drawings (November 23, 2010 to February 13, 2011) (17)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 23, 2010 to February 13, 2011