Poetic inspiration

In 1652, a major patron commissioned Claude to paint his most monumental work, Landscape with Apollo and the Muses. This impressive work, one of the high points of Roman classical style, includes motifs borrowed from antiquity and from Raphael, set in a landscape bathed in the soft light of the Roman campagna. The painting offers a reconstitution of the mythical world of Greece of the ancient poets in the guise of the countryside near Rome. Its balanced composition plays on a contrast between the mass of Mount Parnassus (or Mount Helicon) on the left, and the distant horizon on the right; a hollow along the ground cuts a diagonal between these two sections. The same composition would recur in various, constantly modulated forms in a number of drawn and painted landscapes in subsequent years, such as Landscape with Mercury and Battus (1662). In 1664, twelve years after finishing the original canvas of Apollo and the Muses, Claude executed a faithful drawn replica.