Yesterday R3’s Desert Island disc format programme Private Passions had the Director of the National Gallery, Nicholas Penny as its guest. Escorted on a tour of several paintings, presenter Michael Berkeley) and his audience were introduced to a selection of paintings specially chosen for Easter. Penny chose music and the spoken word as accompaniments for each painting- Rossini's Stabat Mater for Jacopo di Cione’s Crucifixion- above.
A number of interesting themes came up such as using the NG as a place to be surprised by art. Something that I count as a serendipitous find was the Dead Christ that Penny discussed in the conservation department. He is right; it is not a “great” painting, but it is “good”, not to say intriguing. According to the NG’s web site it was painted by a “late 16th century Italian artist.” Thank goodness the NG can still delight and surprise like this unlike R3- with the exception of shows like this, R3 has become predictable and dull. Don’t get me started.
Penny wore his erudition lightly and showed his witty side as well as his views on modern art. It turns out that the Blue Cockerel outside his office window in Trafalgar Square fills him with dread. I can think of another word, but let’s not go there.
Listen to the programme here and look at the pictures including the ones here on the BBC’s web site.
This phrase is the renaissance scholar’s David Rosand’s, and I came across it while researching my next course on the art of Venice: Venice, Renaissance to Ruskin. I was intrigued by the phrase, especially as I wanted to consider how Venice used its complex system of signs including such images as the “Lion of St Mark”, as in Carpaccio’s painting shown above,Venetia (the personification of Venice) to present a picture of the state to the world, and of course its own citizens. In his book Myths of Venice: The Figuration of a State (2001) Rosand presents an iconographical exposition of signs such as these in order to show how the myths and origins of Venice were communicated through the art of the 15th and 16th centuries. We’ll return to the idea of propaganda in Venice, but before we can evaluate the appropriateness of the term propaganda for the Venetian renaissance, we need to say something about the concept’s relationship with art historians who worked on the pre-modern period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the notion of propaganda entered into discussions about controlling the masses through systems of information control.
Propaganda and Baroque Art History: Wittkower and the Jesuits.
“But should propaganda operate as more than a sign in art history?
Evonne Levy, Propaganda and the Jesuit Baroque.
Those searching for clues to the link between propaganda and the early modern could do worse than to consult a book by Evonne Levy entitled Propaganda and the Jesuit Baroque. Published in 2004, the book focuses on the connections between propaganda and the Jesuit baroque, which is a style label that became derogatory in the eyes of many intellectuals. Scholars were suspicious of the Jesuit’s use of painting and sculpture to overwhelm the spectator; this was a kind of “crowd control” designed to put the dazzled viewer in a state of conformity. Towards the end of the 19th century there was growing alarm about the rise of people in cities and fear of mass society were expressed through studies of the crowd like Gustave Le Bon’s book on crowd psychology. Legendary art historians like Rudolph Wittkower, Heinrich Wöfflin and Walter Friedlaender, the generation of art historians who lived through World War One, developed their ideas about baroque art while these concerns about crowd psychology were in the air, and as Levy argues it had no little impact on their thinking given that they had been subjected to Nazi ideology. To give one brief example, Friedlaender a German émigré to the United States, disdained to use the term propaganda fidei to describe Caravaggio’s art; instead, he associated it with baroque artists like Rubens and Bernini. In the words of Levy, though she cannot know if describing Caravaggio’s art in terms of propaganda was unpalatable to Friedlaender, it seems likely that he sought to “distance Caravaggio from impious Jesuitism.”
Berenson, Lippmann, and Painting for the Masses.
“People began to feel the need for painting as something that entered into their daily lives almost as much as we now sometimes feel the need of the newspaper; nor was this unnatural, considering that, until the invention of printing, painting was the only way, apart from direct speech, of conveying ideas to the masses.”
Bernard Berenson, Painting in Venice.
Berenson’s volume on Venetian painting first appeared in 1894 after he had left Harvard, followed by his others on different schools of Italian painting up to 1907. His comparison of painting to the newspaper is intriguing and begs the question of how the debates on methods of controlling information disseminated to the masses was influencing his own thinking on the way renaissance art communicated data to the public in Italian cities. While we can’t demonstrate that Berenson was assimilating the ideas of the modern information managers and theorists, we can certainly prove that one of their most important writers was aware of Berenson’s writings on Italian art. In his book of 1921, Public Opinion, the American “public intellectual” and journalist Walter Lippmann ( above) drew on Berenson’s essay on Central Italian Painters (pub 1897) when inventing his notion of the “stereotype,” which is part of his analysis of how social psychology and mass society in the modern world works. Lippmann focused on the problem of wether the masses were capable of processing the welter of information and material in the modern world distributed through the mass media. An elitist, Lippmann concluded pessimistically that the masses lacked the capacity to deal with this tsunami of information and he recommended a bureaucratic elite to filter this information. This debate still rages today, more relevant in this age of information overload, and the loss of objectivity in our 24/7 news culture. I cannot claim that I have uncovered another tradition of art history and propaganda, but I think it is correct to say that this constellation of ideas which includes aesthetics and mass psychology seems to have emanated from the intellectual climate in Harvard. It is very interesting that Lippmann, another Harvard graduate, drew on Berenson to help formulate his ideas on social psychology, advertising and the role of the newspapers. The link between Berenson and Lippmann, and indeed other Harvard intellectuals, certainly merits further study, but that will have to be the subject of another post.
Searching for a Framework: Propaganda and Rhetoric.
One of the problems in using the word propaganda to describe art as a mechanism of state power in the renaissance is that the word never existed. The nearest thing to it would have been rhetoric, the art of persuading through argument, which derives from classical times. In Propaganda and the Jesuit Baroque, Levy analyses this within an unravelling of the history of propaganda and rhetoric. By the time rhetoric had reached the renaissance period, it was used by humanist speakers in the public realm. This of course happened in Venice which had opened up its public spaces in imitation of Rome. Berenson makes the interesting point that the growing diversity in wider renaissance society led to a split between the humanist, literary imagination, (part of the tradition of rhetoric) and the emergence of a more popular style in Venetian painting; the renaissance ceased to be a movement conducted by poets and scholars alone and so painting acquired a new municipal function of instilling pride in the prosperous and peaceful Venetian state. Assuming Berenson’s model is correct, and it will need closer investigation, we could tentatively say that there were many different types of social registers for painting in renaissance Venice. Giorgione’s lyrical allegories clearly reflect the taste of an elite company of scholarly humanists; the Bellini ( Gentile’s St Mark Procession above) and Carpaccio with their colourful processions and pageants convey something of a more popular taste centred on the festivals. Yet, we must be careful not to simplify since as Rosand says, the imagery of pagan humanism and archaeology, the province of Venetian intellectuals, intruded into these popular events so there could be an overlap of high and common cultures. Also, Venetian society was imbued with a corporatist ethos ensuring that everybody, whatever their station in the social hierarchy, worked for the good of the republic. Finally, the overpowering triumphal allegories of such artists as Tintoretto and Veronese might be seen as approximations of rhetorical writings that proclaimed the fame of Venice to the outside world.
The «Venetian Renaissance Propaganda Machine ».
Some might see Rosand’s use of the word « propaganda » as anachronistic, but I would defend it on the grounds that though the word wasn’t coined in the renaissance period, the germ of the idea was present within the framework of rhetoric in renaissance Venice. If we were searching for a word that described this concoction of politics, art and communication in the renaissance, we could use a word like glory which Berenson frequently employs when discussing Venetian painting, but this word conjures up the gloire of the court of Louis XIV in the 17th century, and Venice did not have a court. Perhaps we can distinguish Venetian propagandistic art from this kind of gloire since in some cases, notably Titian, the genius of the artist could mesh perfectly with the needs of the commission and the Venetian state. With a painter like Louis XIV’s Charles Le Brun, his individuality doesn’t outshine the terms of the official commission at all.
As Berenson says, Michelangelo and Leonardo didn’t paint their famous decorations to glorify the Florentine Republic, but “to give scope to their genius.” The Venetian ruling class, however, cleverly recruited artists like Titian and Veronese ( his Triumph of Venice in the Ducal Palace above) to celebrate the state in art, and they drew upon the parallel skills of scholars to use their rhetorical skills to praise the Venetian Republic in writing which was effective as propaganda since 17th English travellers were interpreting Venetian painting in precisely that way. This interest marked the success of the “Venetian Renaissance Propaganda Machine” as it was this rhetoric of the humanists that inspired this ceremonial visual imagery despite the mundane reality of the situation which surely would have been evident to travellers to Venice in the baroque age when the city was in decline.
We can look for the stirrings of propaganda in the renaissance in this slippage between the concept and the rhetorical tradition helpfully explicated by Levy. Eventually, propaganda would come to be seen by pre-modern art historians like Wittkower and Wöfflin as a predominantly baroque phenomenon, but we can see elements of the propaganda concept in play in renaissance Venice with this tension between the rhetorical humanist tradition and one of a more public art directed towards the masses as explored by scholars such as Rosand and Berenson who stress either explicitly, or by implication the “propagandistic” function of painting in renaissance Venice which is, to borrow Berenson’s words, to use art to “remind the Venetians of their glory and state policy.”
I’ll return to these ideas in my Venice course/blog which will begin soon.
I must have known Hasan Niyazi for about four to three years, though we never met more’s the pity. Thinking back on the exchanges we had, I got the impression that he was taking a long time to get used to Poussin. That’s true for many people! One thing I do recall is that Hasan was fascinated by a remark that Poussin is reported – by Bellori- to have made that Caravaggio was brought into the world to destroy painting. Hasan was intrigued, perplexed and agitated by this remark as Caravaggio was one of his favourite artists on TPP. Go here for a sample of his writing on Caravaggio.
As for Poussin’s view of Raphael via De Piles who is surfacing in the debate about liking or disliking Raphael, I strongly suspect that Hasan would have been exercised by the remark about Raphael and the ancients. The young renaissance master was the centre of Hasan’s universe, and I suspect in his eyes Raphael would have left the Greeks and Romans on the starting blocks! Sadly, both Raphael and Hasan died tragically young, but we must be thankful that they left us monuments to their achievement which we can enjoy and celebrate. It’s a fine idea to choose this day to honour both, and so this post is respectfully dedicated to the memory of Hasan from a Poussin scholar who shares his love for Raphael.
Poussin and Raphael
“Poussin said that Raphael was an angel compared to the Modern Painters, but an ass when compared to the ancients.” Roger de Piles
Wether the early modern connoisseur and theorist Roger de Piles is correctly reporting Poussin’s frank assessment of his great renaissance predecessor cannot be proven, but it does seem to hold a grain of truth. Poussin always had deep respect for Raphael and his achievement is inconceivable without the renaissance master’s designs; but his guiding model was antiquity, the art of the Greeks and Romans whom he regarded as unsurpassable, especially the Greeks. In this tribute post I will concentrate on what Poussin learnt from both Raphael and the antique in the formation of the Frenchman’s Parnassus, based on Raphael’s celebrated fresco of the same name in the Vatican, and as we shall see a number of other sources.
Due to lost paintings and meagre documentation of Poussin’s early career, it is difficult to re-construct this early phase, let alone identify the influence of artists such as Raphael on his work. Poussin’s earliest exposure to Raphael is always a contentious issue given the gaps in his early oeuvre, and the clues they might provide. Anthony Blunt believed that Poussin may have seen some of Raphael’s paintings in the collection of Francois I at Fontainebleau, but this remains conjecture, at best. We are perhaps on firmer ground with the 17th century critic Bellori who informs us that from a mathematician to the king called Courtois, Poussin obtained engravings from the school of Raphael, Guilio Romano and other members of Raphael’s school, probably Marcantonio Raimondi whose engraving of Raphael’s Parnassus he knew and used for his own version.
The Parnassus Theme in Poussin’s Early Drawings.
As it is now believed that Poussin’s Parnassus was created as a kind of visual tribute to the poet and the artist’s first important patron Marino, it’s logical to search for similar themes and motifs connected with Apollo and the Muses in the series of drawings that the painter executed for his protector in his very early years. The first sheet that has thematic affinity, though not stylistic equivalence with the Parnassus theme is a heavily darkened drawing of Pallas and the Muses dating from about 1622-23. This saturated drawing is based on an episode in Ovid where Minerva, goddess of the arts, visits the Muses to view the miraculous fountain on Mount Helicon. This sheet is conceived in the mode of Northern printmakers like Goltzius and betrays Poussin’s knowledge of classical sculpture relayed through these channels. The most distinctive figure here is the Muse who enters from the viewer’s right with an agitated movement. She is undoubtedly based on a fleeing figure in the group of Niobe and her Children, in the Villa Medici, but probably known to Poussin through drawings and engravings as this sheet dates from before his move to Rome about 1625. Of more interest for our purposes is the Muse at the centre rear of the drawing pointing upwards towards the aerial goddess and holding a book. The iconography suggests she is Clio, the Muse of History, but whatever her identity, this kind of statuesque pointing figure will migrate into Poussin’s Parnassus and the ancillary drawings via an important antique source he will meet in Rome. What we are looking at in this drawing is probably the earliest and raw expression of the Parnassus theme in Poussin’s career as it seems unlikely that this kind of subject would have been tackled before Poussin met Marino.
Marcantonio Raimondi’s Engraving of Raphael’s Parnassus.
After looking at the possible origins of the Parnassus idea in Poussin’s early drawings, the next port of call is Marcantonio Raimondi’s engraving after Raphael’s Parnassus is usually dated about 1515-18, a few years after the Vatican commission. Raimondi’s print is striking because it doesn’t match Raphael’s final fresco precisely. The main difference between print and fresco is the inclusion of five putti hovering near the trees in the former, a detail absent in the latter. According to John Pope-Hennessy, Raimondi’s engraving shows Raphael’s first design for the Parnassus. Assuming this is the case, there are questions to be asked. Why did Raphael discard the putti since they are relevant to the poets on Parnassus theme? Their significance is that they obtain the laurel from the trees for the crowns of the poets, and hence are integral to the theme of poetic inspiration. Poussin seems to realised this and retained them in his own Parnassus even adding two who offer goblets of water collected from the Castalian spring to poets in the foreground. Raphael may have considered his putti too distracting to the viewer and possibly thought that they ruffled the tranquillity of his classically conceived design, so he removed them. But, then there’s the question of why an engraving of the final Parnassus doesn’t exist? Some Raphael scholars believe that the print suggests “a fully, worked out, earlier idea for it [the Parnassus] that Raphael thought worth publishing, or not unworthy of preservation.” Maybe the print should be seen as Raimondi’s negotiation between two designs, keeping the basic structure intact, but adapting it for a new context, perhaps for quick reference in Raphael’s workshop itself. Whatever his motivations, it seems that Raimondi wanted to eliminate certain figures like the poet who points out into the viewer’s space; instead, his reconstruction makes for a more compact, visually taut design ideal for swift assimilation in a teaching situation.
Poussin’s Parnassus Drawing in the Getty.
It is not known if Poussin saw Raimondi’s engraving of Raphael’s Parnassus in France before he saw Raphael’s fresco in Rome, which is what Pope-Hennessy claimed. No visual or textual evidence exists to support this claim that Poussin knew of the Raphael composition through engravings in France. An examination of the early drawings doesn’t throw up any sign of the Parnassus, or figures within it; Poussin seems to have based his Muse figures in his juvenilia on other sources than Raphael. What we can say with certitude is that Poussin definitely knew of the engraving in the late 1620s, some years after his arrival in Rome in 1625, as we have a drawing based on Raimondi’s print, in the Getty Museum, Los Angeles. It shows three main groups: in the centre, though with Apollo shifted to the left, the god and a group of muses standing and sitting; on the left, the Muse of Tragedy, Melpomene escorts a well-dressed figure into the company of poets, and on the right a group of three muses stand like a welded sculptural group. In his final painted version, Poussin was to discard the graceful entry of Melpomene, a great pity since the ambulatory group of muse and poet is far more successful than the three poets standing together in the final version. And in the final painting, Poussin has a prominent figure clothed in blue and white garments advancing into the centre, and apart from his contrast with the poets in reds, violets and greens, this displacement leaves a large gap on the right which throws the composition off balance. However, Poussin does remain loyal to the engraving generally: he dispenses with the Vatican window; he also retains the floating putti, though their configuration is changed. Apart from shifting Apollo further left, the most important element is Poussin’s own, the stately promenade of Melpomene, identifiable by her tragic mask and sword, with the unknown poet into the clearing. From the style of the drawing, it should be placed as early as 1630, although the feathery treatment of the foliage on the trees can be still be seen in Poussin’s drawings of the mid 1630s.
The Copy after Raphael’s Parnassus.
In 1974 Anthony Blunt published an essay on drawings overlooked in Poussin’s corpus. Leading these was a sheet in the Woodner collection that may be the only extant copy of Raphael’s Parnassus by Poussin. What Poussin seems to have done here was to focus only on the section of the fresco that runs from the scribe on the left to a muse with her back to the spectator. This drawing provides some insights into Poussin’s engagement with Raphael and the antique. Now fully conversant with the ancient statues in Rome which he loved, Poussin drew this fresh interpretation of Raphael’s fresco in the 1640s with an eye for the monumental. Though he arranges the figures in a frieze with wonderful spontaneous light effects, typical of the early 1640s, he includes a single muse at the top left of the sheet as a free-standing figure. Blunt claimed that Poussin had attempted to copy exactly this section of Raphael’s fresco but had “miscalculated and did not leave enough room for the muse on the right.” According to the curators of the Woodner exhibition, the repositioned Muse is that of one “beneath the two trees on the right of the fresco.” The problem with this observation is that this figure is not a muse but a poet, identifiable by the laurel crown, something of an iconographical clanger which neither Poussin nor Raphael would make! Though the pose of the relocated “Muse” at the top of the sheet resembles Raphael’s poet on the right of the Parnassus, it seems more likely that this displaced figure has some lineage with statues that Poussin had been viewing in Rome in the 1630s. As for Blunt’s claim, it seems strange that an artist as meticulous as Poussin, at the top of his game in the 1640s would “miscalculate” in this way. Also, this figure is quite a long way from the central section in Raphael’s fresco that he copied, and it would make no logical sense to include it. To resolve this problem, I would suggest that Poussin was thinking of blending Raphael’s figures with another source, one that appears in the Getty drawing, the final Parnassus painting, and in a number of his compositions in the 1630s and 1640s. This is the statue of a Roman woman that came to be known as the Cesi Juno, and who was occasionally thought to be a Muse. Poussin’s isolated woman in the Woodner drawing seems to have more in common with the artist’s studies of the Cesi Juno than the garlanded poet with the same pose in Raphael’s Parnassus. Indeed, the Woodner Muse may have been placed there intentionally to suggest a contrast between seeing sculpture in the round and viewing the relief-like composition of Raphael’s designs.
A Note on Poussin’s and Raphael’s Sources for the Parnassus.
Though Poussin and Raphael used similar antique sources for their version of Parnassus, such as sarcophagi with statuesque, feminine figures, they do diverge in their choice of models. For example, Raphael famously based his celebrated figure of the Muse Calliope (reclining in a white garment) on the Vatican Ariadne, but Poussin favoured a different aesthetic approach which resulted in the weakest element of his composition. For reasons best known to Poussin, the beautiful reclining figure of Raphael’s Calliope was exchanged for an anaemic tapering nude in the mannerist style of the Second School of Fontainebleau. This is to be deplored as this figure adds a discordant note completely at odds with the beautiful and noble muses behind her whose dispositions and gestures owe more to the original spirit of Raphael’s fresco.
Some statues were not known to Raphael as they were discovered long after his death in 1520. One of these, the statue of a Roman matron known as the Cesi Juno is first recorded in 1556 when it is said to have no arms. Later, arms were added and Poussin must have seen it in this condition as all his figures based upon it possess arms. It is not known when Poussin first laid eyes on the Cesi Juno, but he certainly knew in the late 1620s since two of the muses on the far right of the Getty preparatory sketch are based upon the statue. There is no need to worry about rescuing the Cesi Juno from previous considerations of the Parnassus compositions as it has never been connected with theme. The distinctive raised arm and himation, or ancient garment, over the shoulder is unmistakeable, though in the drawing the drapery is transferred to the left shoulder unlike the original model. Poussin undoubtedly loved the art of the Greeks, as he declared in a famous statement, but the Cesi Juno demonstrates less the effortless grace of the Greeks and more the severity of Roman gravitas and dignity. Poussin clearly thought that this regally draped figure stood for feminine maturity, but he may also have known it also was thought to be Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy. But Poussin used another figure with unmistakeable iconography for Melpomene in the Getty design, so the figure on the other side of the sheet must represent another one of the inspirational sisters. It is difficult to identify her; she might be Clio but the figure in the centre of the sheet with trumpet and book is more likely to represent the Muse of History; Urania the Muse of Astronomy is another possibility as she points up towards the heavens. This figure could also be Mnemosyne, the mother of the Muses because the culture of 17th century antiquarianism believed that Juno was linked with Mnemosyne. It might be also worth mentioning that this goddess has also been connected with the Arcadian shepherdess in Poussin’s canonical Et in Arcadia Ego, a figure thought to based on the Cesi Juno.
The statuesque cluster of women betrays something of Poussin’s source selection since this figure pointing upwards with her right hand, index finger extended, unmistakeably recalls the Cesi Juno whilist her companion on the far side has similar drapery to the Juno. The middle figure holding a lyre is more reminiscent of figures on Muse sarcophagi, some of which would have been known to Poussin in Rome. The figure with a lyre can be confidently identified as Erato, the muse of Lyrical Poetry as she holds that instrument, and a putto, a symbol of divine inspiration, sits at her feet. So, if we assume that her companion is Urania, the muse of Astronomy indicating the heavens, we can at least name five muses in the Getty drawing: Clio, the muse of History in the centre, and the ones with the masks are Thalia and Melpomene, muses of comedy and tragedy respectively. From our study of the sources we can deduce that Poussin derived his muses from both free-standing and relief sculpture, and for this particular project, possibly the engravings of Raimondi of muses on the sarcophagus in the Villa Guistiniani which were available for Poussin to see in the 17th century. So in some ways, Poussin reverted to similar sources as Raphael when creating his feminine company.
Poussin and Raphael on Parnassus.
Raphael’s representation of the poets and muses on Parnassus has prompted theories and speculation about the painter’s connection with the themes in the painting. John Pope-Hennessy pondered the idea of Raphael as a “mute poet” but concluded in the absence of textual documents, diaries, letters etc, gauging the “literary imagination” of the painter depended on strict scrutiny of the drawings from which inferences might be drawn. It’s not even known if the Parnassus theme reflects Raphael’s own poetic inclinations. Some scholars have turned to the culture of the papal court and claimed that some of the heads of Raphael’s poets on the right hand side of the Parnassus are portraits of renaissance writers such as Accolti and Sannazzaro.  Assuming that is the case, then Raphael purposefully assembled contemporary poets them placed them next to poets from history such as Pindar, Homer, Dante and Virgil as well as mythological figures like Apollo and the Muses. If Raphael was trying to fuse the genres of contemporary literature, history and mythology, the spheres of reality and imagination, all within one composition, then the fresco might be seen as one giant evocation of the ut pictura poesis theme, the notion of painting as silent poetry. The fresco not only celebrates poetry and literary invention, but also is a visual plea for painting to be awarded the same status as poetry since Raphael’s art depends upon this literary tradition for his inspiration in creating his visual images.
Similar problems of interpretation bedevil those seeking Poussin’s motivations in painting his own Parnassus, nearly 130 years later. Traditionally, the Prado picture has been interpreted as an encomium on the Poussin’s first great patron, the poet Giambattista Marino. This view is contingent upon wether we accept that Apollo is receiving Marino and that the two books the poet holds are his works, the Adone (Adonis) and Strage degli Innocenti (Massacre of the Innocents). On the face of it this seems a reasonable hypothesis: Poussin painted a celebrated version of the Massacre of the Innocents, which may have links with Marino’s poem of the same subject; and some of early drawings at Windsor may illustrate scenes from Marino’s Adone, though caution should be exercised here.
Marino’s presence as the main poet in the Parnassus must remain a theory in the absence of concrete evidence supporting a real link between the themes of the painting and Marino himself. Marino had died in 1625 and it is clear from studying Poussin’s Parnassus compositions that the theme had evolved far beyond a tribute to one poet. For example, it seems likely that Poussin may have intended a reference to the Italian poet Torquato Tasso whose large poem Gerusalemme liberata (1581) provided Poussin with material for many paintings in the late 1620s and 1630s. The figure that Melpomene gracefully escorts into the distinguished company has been identified as Tasso by Panofsky, but there is an iconographical problem here. As Gerusalemme liberata is an epic poem, it makes no sense that the Muse of Tragedy is introducing the poet to Apollo in the Getty sheet. If the incoming poet in the Getty drawing is Tasso, then he should be accompanied by Calliope, the Muse of Epic Poetry, but the mask and dagger prove that his companion is Melpomene the custodian of a completely different genre. In the Getty drawing Calliope is probably the figure at the rear of the composition, in the centre, crowning two poets who unfortunately cannot be identified due to Poussin’s schematic style and their lack of attributes. Another explanation could be that Poussin was blending different literary genres together. Space prevents a fully developed analysis of this idea, but suffice it to say that in the final painted version Poussin placed three poets on the viewer’s left. If we follow Panofsky and assume that the figure in the orange garment is Tasso, and that the old man at the back is Homer and the other figure Virgil, then this might make sense. Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata incorporated elements of Homeric and Virgilian epic in its structure and themes, which Poussin would have known from his familiarity with the books of all these poets in his studio library.
Finally, what we are looking at in his Parnassus may be a personal reflection on the poets who inspired his own art and helped him formulate his ideas on painting. Note that Dante, a poet of no interest to Poussin, is not carried over from the Raphael. Yet Poussin’s Parnassus does have much in common with Raphael’s own ideas on painting and poetry in his own celebration of gods, literary heroes and the power of art. Poussin’s statement on this theme reaches its culmination in the Louvre Inspiration of the Poet painted in the same year, the most refined distillation of all these themes which sees Poussin return strictly to the antique rather than Raphael for his sources. Here Poussin demonstrates his relentless economy of design: just one muse (Calliope, two putti, Apollo, and a single poet who along with the titled books at his feet (the Odyssey, Iliad and Aeneid) represents the classical literary tradition that had inspired Poussin from the Marino years up to this point in his career.
 Bellori, G.P., Le Vite de’ pittori, scultori et architetti moderni…Rome, 1672.
 Martin Clayton, Poussin: Works on Paper, no. 14. This is the pendant to another Ovidian drawing, Apollo slaying Argus, which Poussin was to paint in the late 1620s. The muscular torso of Mercury was thought by Clayton to be based on a figure from a print by Raphael of Joshua commanding the Sun and Moon to stand still. This print definitely influenced Poussin’s battle scenes in his first year in Rome.
 Oskar Bätschmann, Nicolas Poussin: Dialectics of Painting, (London, 22.
 John Pope Hennessy, Raphael, (New York), 1970, 236..
 Roger Jones and Nicholas Penny, Raphael, (Yale, 1983), 72.
 Panofsky claimed this poet represented Tasso. Erwin Panofsky, “ A Mythological Painting by Poussin in the National Museum, Stockholm”, (Stockholm, 1960), 52f..
 Richard Verdi (Nicolas Poussin, 1594-1665, London, 1995, p. 184) wondered if this colour clash indicated that Poussin had executed his canvas “in two distinctive stages in the late 1620s and the other in 1632.” Blunt initially dated the Parnassus as early as 1626-27, but figures such as the Apollo are similar to the Triumph of Flora (Dresden) of about 1630-1..
 Jones and Penny claimed that the putti in Raphael’s earlier design may have been added to “suit the rectangular format of a print.” Poussin’s putti are unsuitable for this format and work much better in his vertical compositions, e.g. The Adoration of the Shepherds, (National Gallery, London).
 For example, the preliminary sheet (Windsor) for the Saving of Young Pyrrhus, about 1634.
 Blunt, “Newly Identified Drawings by Poussin and His Followers”, Master Drawings, Vol. 12, No. 3. (Autumn 1974), 239-319. See also the exhibition catalogue, Master Drawings: The Woodner Collection, R.A., London, 1987, no. 73, p. 204.
 On Raphael’s antique sources for the Parnassus including Muse sarcophagi, see Giovanni Becatti, “Raphael and Antiquity” in Various, The Complete Work of Raphael, (New York), 1969, 491-568, 522-528.
 The Ariadne was known to Poussin; he made a small wax model of it which is in the Louvre.
 Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny, Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture, 1500-1900, (Yale, 1981), no. 51, pp. 242-3
 Elizabeth Cropper and Charles Dempsey, Nicolas Poussin: Friendship and the Love of Painting, (Princeton, 1996), 204. Cropper and Dempsey do not link this statue with the Parnassus but it seems the case that Poussin was absorbing this figure into his fund of motifs years before the Et in Arcadia Ego which dates from about 1638..
 For Raimondi’s copying of these and other Muse figures, see Becatti, “Raphael and Antiquity”, 522f. The Muse with the Lyre held high is the eight muse on the Vienna sarcophagus.
 Ingrid D Rowland, “The Vatican Stanze” in The Cambridge Companion to Raphael, (ed), Marcia B. Hall, (CUP, 2005), 95-119,
 As Henry Keazor (Nicolas Poussin 1594-1665, Taschen, 2007, 14) stresses, Marino’s Adone, an epic verse poem about the young Adonis and the goddess Venus, some of the “Marino drawings” at Windsor “cannot be seen as direct illustrations of Marino’s verses.”