What?? Nine Muses?

For a long time I knew I wanted to paint the nine Muses of Greek myth, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (memory). I had even bought the canvas and stretcher frames and had them standing in my studio, but these inspirational goddesses of learning and the arts never called to me until about a year ago. Once I really got started on them the inspiration began flowing, propelling me forward to finish a number of works in quick succession for my upcoming exhibition in January 2020. The Muses had fascinated me for a long time, because for me they are pillars of the Western arts of which I am part.


The Muses were said to be young, beautiful women with undertones of sensuality and wildness. They had soft feet and tender skin, bathed in mountain springs and danced at night on Mount Helicon. They were the embodiment of the highest intellectual and artistic values, bestowing inspiration on poets and artists alike. Poets often dedicated their work to the them.


The Greek poet Hesiod (c. 700 BCE) first named the Muses, but the genres of the arts were only assigned to them later. In the painting the nine Muses are arranged in three pillars dancing in a circular fashion. They are:

  • Left hand pillar:
    Top: Urania represents Astronomy; Middle: Euterpe with a double flute represents Music; Bottom: Terpsichore represents Dance.

  • Middle pillar:
    Top: Melpomene, in a tragic pose represents Tragedy; Middle: Calliope, holding a writing tablet represents Epic Poetry; Bottom: Clio with a scroll represents History.

  • Right hand pillar:
    Top: the veiled Polyhymnia represents Sacred Poetry; Middle: Erato with a cithara, represents Love Poetry; Bottom: Thalia with an ivy wreath represents Comedy.


This painting will be part of my solo exhibition from 19 January to 15 February 2020 at the IS Art Gallery, 11 Huguenot Street, Franschhoek, South Africa; Telephone: 0027 (0)21 876 2071, Email: is@isart.co.za.

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