Erato the Muse (?)

Primo pittore dello studiolo di Belfiore (Angelo Maccagnino?) e collaboratore di Cosmè Tura

Ferrara, c.1450 and c.1460


Tempera on wooden panel, 123.5 x 72.1cm

Most recently a component of the Sacrati Strozzi Collection, this panel was originally part of the cycle of Muses made for Leonello d’Este’s studiolo at the Palazzo Belfiore that included: Urania, currently kept at the Pinacoteca; Calliope(?) now in London; Talia in Budapest; Polymnia in Berlin; and Tersicore in Milan. This panel was thought to have been made during the first phase of work, led by Angelo Maccagnino between 1449 and 1456. The Muse’s upper body is depicted frontally in an archaic style, void of the three-dimensionality that is nonetheless present in the draperies covering her legs and in the detail of the slipper dangling off her foot over the throne. The Paduan-cum-Donatellesque accentuation of space seen in the bottom half of the painting has been attributed to one of Cosmè  Tura’s collaborators when under Borso d’Este the leadership of the workshop passed into Tura’s hands (1459-1463). This muse has been identified as Erato. In the iconographic program laid out by the humanist Guarino da Verona Erato was the patron saint of conjugal love. The Muse’s gesture to undo her bodice may allude to the fertility of the Muses as wellsprings of the arts.