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Work Clio, Euterpe, and Thalia
Department of Paintings: French painting
Clio, Euterpe, and Thalia
© 2007 Musée du Louvre / Angèle Dequier
Clio, the Muse of history, is holding the trumpet which heralds the great events of human history and the book in which they are recorded. Euterpe, the Muse of music, is playing the flute and is wearing a floral wreath. Thalia, the Muse of comedy, is holding a mask in reference to the theater.
A homage to Italian Mannerism
The scene is set in a delightful landscape that is both intimate and realist. The three Muses are grouped in the center. The colors are remarkably refined. The yellow, pink, and blue of the gowns of the three figures echo the green foliage and the gray-blue sky. Le Sueur's painting is a homage to Italian Mannerist painting.
The Muses and the arts
In Greek mythology, the nine Muses were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. Each Muse represented a different art. Clio represented history, Euterpe music, Thalia comedy, Melpomene tragedy, Terpsichore dance, Erato elegy, Polyhymnia lyric poetry, Urania astronomy, and Calliope epic poetry and eloquence. Their cortege was led by Apollo, who inspired their creations. This painting had a companion piece depicting Melpomene, Erato, and Polyhymnia. The Cabinet of the Muses in the Hôtel Lambert was also decorated with individual renditions of Urania, Terpsichore, and Calliope. The ceiling was decorated with the scene from Greek legend when Phaeton asked Apollo to let him drive the chariot of the sun.
The Hôtel Lambert
This elegant and brightly colored painting, along with four other paintings by Le Sueur dating from around 1650, was part of the decoration of the Cabinet of the Muses at the Hôtel Lambert. This elegant mansion on the Ile Saint-Louis in Paris belonged to Lambert de Thorigny, president of the Court of Accounts, who regularly called on the services of a number of artists, including Le Sueur. The mansion was designed by Le Vau. The interior was richly decorated. Apart from the Cabinet of the Muses, Le Sueur also worked in the Cabinet of Love, where he painted another famous series of works. Both the Cabinet of the Muses and the Cabinet of Love were saved by Count d'Angiviller in 1776 when they became part of the royal collections.
Eustache LE SUEUR (Paris, 1616 - Paris, 1655)
Clio, Euterpe, and Thalia
H. 1.30 m; W. 1.30 m
Wall panel from the Chambre des Muses in the Hôtel Lambert,
in Paris; collection of Louis XVI (acquired in 1776)
Le tableau du mois (Painting of the Month)
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