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PARNASSUS
by Anton Raphael Mengs

55 x 101 cm



     This painting was a sketch for Mengs's fresco of 1761 in the central part of the ceiling of the Villa Albani in Rome, commissioned by Cardinal Alessandro Albani.
      We see an excellent example of how Mengs overcame Baroque traditions and turned increasingly towards the norms of Neoclassical art. The whole painting is redolent with the influence of Raphael's frescoes on the same theme in the Vatican apartment in Rome.
      In the centre is Apollo, or Apollo Musagetes, the Sun God, patron of the arts and leader of the Muses, with his attributes of a lyre, a laurel wreath upon his head and one in his hand.
      Seated to his left is Mnemosyne, mother of the Muses, and the Muses Thalia (comedy), Calliope (epic poetry), Polhymnia (heroic hymns and mimic art) and Terpsichore (dancing and song).
      To his right the Muses Clio (history), Erato (love poetry), Euterpe (lyric poetry), Melpomene (tragedy) and Urania (astronomy).
      Each Muse is depicted with her relevant attributes. Clio bears the features of Mengs's wife Margarita, while Mnemosyne is a likeness of Vittorucchia, daughter of Countess Ceroffini.