Terpsichore Lyran (1816)

Canova, Antonio (1757-1822)

Terpsichore Lyran (Muse of Lyric Poetry)
Marble, 177.5 x 78.1 x 61 cm
Cleveland Museum of ArtCleveland

Trained by his grandfather, an Italian stonemason, Canova began modeling clay and carving marble sculptures before age ten.

In Greek mythology, Terpsichore was one of the nine Muses, or goddesses of creative inspiration. The lyre, the Greek inscription on the short column, and the caduceus (entwined snakes) on the side identify the figure as Terpsichore Lyran, muse of lyric poetry. This sculpture began with a commission from Napoleon‘s brother, Lucien, for an idealized portrait of his wife, Alexandrine. Antonio Canova made this version for a British aristocrat and exhibited it in 1817 at the Royal Academy in London to great acclaim. (CMA)