The Muse Erato Writing Verses Inspired by Lov
Charles Meynier (French, Paris 1768–1832)
The Muse Erato Writing Verses Inspired by Love, 1797
21 cm x 29 cm image, digitally printed on bright white, matt print surface, 250 GSM premium paper
In 1797 François-Bernard Boyer-Fonfrède, an industrial textile manufacturer, commissioned Meynier to paint nine canvases featuring Apollo and the Muses for a large room in his home in Toulouse. Meynier exhibited the painting based on this drawing at the Salon of 1800 but ultimately only completed five canvases, as his patron ran out of money. The paintings were installed in the hall of Wallenried Castle, Switzerland by General Castella de Berlens around 1824, where they remained until 1983. The group was acquired by the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2003.
In this study, Erato, the muse of lyrical poetry, writes verses using Love's arrow as he whispers in her ear. Typical of his style as a draftsman, Meynier sketched in his classicizing figures in a confident manner, using a muscular ink outline over a black chalk underdrawing. A liberal use of white gouache lends the scene a painterly and sunlit quality. The drawing is squared in black chalk to facilitate the transfer of the design, but, nonetheless, the artist made several adjustments to the final composition. In the painting, Meynier significantly increases the amount of foliage, creating a feathery green frame around the figures. Reflections were also added to the pool along the lower margin and the toppled basket of flowers was righted and placed on the left side, by the lyre.