Apollo and the Muses

Object Details

Title:

Apollo and the Muses

Artist/Maker(s):

Claude Lorrain (Claude Gellée) (French, 1604 or 1605 ? - 1682)

Culture:

French

Place(s):

France (Place created)

Date:

1674

Medium:

Pen and brown wash, heightened with white gouache, over black chalk

Dimensions:

21.3 x 58.1 cm (8 3/8 x 22 7/8 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. They gather along the Castelian 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. An identifying inscription fills a cartouche beside each Muse.

Claude Lorrain's friezelike composition, with figures balanced carefully along the foreground plane, reflects the influence of fellow Baroque artist Nicolas Poussin, Claude's contemporary and rival. The substantial forms of the Muses fill the scene, blocking much of the more delicate landscape that was Claude's most frequent subject. This drawing is unique in his work in showing large-scale figures accompanied by inscriptions.

Scholars do not know why the artist made this drawing. Claude or a patron may have wanted to retain a copy of an earlier composition or, more likely, to remember the identification of the figures in the picture.

Provenance

Claude Lorrain (Claude Gellée), French, 1604 or 1605 ? - 1682, from an album of the artist's drawings presumably acquired from his heirs, in Rome

Prince Livio Odescalchi, died 1713

Odescalchi Family, by descent

Norton Simon, American, 1907 - 1993

1960

Georges Wildenstein, purchase from Odesclachi family

Exhibitions
Claude Lorrain (November 9 to December 10, 1982)
  • Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd., (London), November 9 to December 10, 1982, (Cat. 37)
In the Light of Claude Lorrain (Im Licht von Claude Lorrain) (March 12 to May 29, 1983)
  • Haus der Kunst (Munich), March 12 to May 29, 1983, (Cat. catalogue by M. Roethlisberger et. al. 79)
Claude: The Poetic Landscape (January 26 to April 10, 1994)
  • The National Gallery (London), January 26 to April 10, 1994, (Cat. catalogue by H. Wine 75)
Figural Compositional Drawings from the 16th to the 19th Century (August 31 to December 8, 1996)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), August 31 to December 8, 1996, (Cat.)
Master Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (December 16, 1997 to February 22, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 1997 to February 22, 1998, (Cat.)
Gods and Heroes: European Drawings of Classical Mythology (November 19, 2013 to February 9, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 19, 2013 to February 9, 2014, (Cat.)