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Title The Muse Calliope
Collection Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle
Artist Attributed to Dandini, Cesare (Italian painter, 1596-1657)
Date Earliest possibly about 1640
Date Latest possibly about 1650
Description This painting represents one of the nine muses, daughters of Jupiter and Mnemosyne. The Florentine painter Cesare Dandini followed the description of Calliope, Muse of epic poetry, prescribed in Cesare Ripa's Iconologia (1603). Dandini's works show a combination of restrained theatricality and idealised classicism that suited the tastes of his patrons at the court of Lorenzo de' Medici. The rhetorical gesture, and the animation with which the elegant half-length female figure addresses the viewer, are characteristic features of the works he produced during the final decades of his career.
Current Accession Number B.M.1004
Former Accession Number No. 402
Inscription front lc 'ODISSEA ILIADE ENEIDE'
Subject mythology (Muse)
Measurements 78.5 x 58.5 cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by the founders John and Joséphine Bowes 1885.
Publications Young, E., Catalogue of Spanish and Italian Paintings. The Bowes Museum, Durham, 1970; Bellesi, S., Cesare Dandini, Turin, 1996, cat. no. 80, p. 137.

S. Bellesi has connected the female figure in this painting with the model for Dandini's Female Figure in Oriental Costume (about 1645, Dowell Collection, Dallas). It can also be associated with the Portrait of a Lady (1639, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen).

The subject was identified by Enriqueta Frankfort (correspondence, 1962) who noted that the representation of Calliope 'is based directly on the description of this Muse in Ripa's Iconologia': 'Giovane ancor'ella, & hauerà cinta la fronte di un cerchio d'oro, nel braccio sinistro terrà molte ghirlando di lauro, & con la destra mano tre libri, in ciascan de'quali apparirà il proprio titolo, ciò è in un'Odissea, nell'altro Ilias, & nel terzo Eneida.'

The Uffizi owns a personification of Comedy by Dandini, which suggests the possibility of a series of images of the muses to which this painting might belong.

Rights Owner The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham
Author Dr Mercedes Cerón



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