A Muse (Calliope?)

Tura became the favoured court artist of the Este family in the late 1450s. He was paid a monthly salary to paint anything from heraldry to fresco cycles. He also designed silverware and tapestries. He was the foremost painter of a series of pictures of the Muses for a 'studiolo' or study at the Este castle of Belfiore near Ferrara. This picture is thought to be one of the series. It would have been displayed high up in a room, hence the low vanishing-point.

There are a number of pictures by Tura and associated artists which are thought to be part of the set. Underneath the figure, which is painted in oils, is an earlier painting in tempera, of a figure on a throne of organ pipes. This was probably Euterpe 'discoverer of pipes'. Identifications can be difficult because Tura did not stick closely to his brief. The theme of fertility suggests that the final figure may be Polyhymnia, the muse who discovered the cultivation of the fields.

Tura's 'Muse' (Personal response)
Historian Caroline Smith explores 'A Muse'

Key facts

Artist dates
before 1431 - 1495
Full title
A Muse (Calliope?)
Date made
probably 1455-60
Medium and support
Oil with egg on poplar
116.2 x 71.1 cm
Acquisition credit
Layard Bequest, 1916
Inventory number
Location in Gallery