Homer, Apollo and the Muses on Mt. Parnassus


Homer, Apollo and the Muses on Mt. Parnassus



When auctioned at Christie’s in London in 1839, this painting was fittingly described as “Homer reciting his poems
before Apollo, who is playing the lyre; the Muses and Corybantes around him; Cupids with the car of Phoebus seen behind; in a circular frame; a beautiful composition, treated with true classical feeling”. A companion canvas depicted “Bacchus and Ariadne reclining on a bank, surrounded by satyrs and nymphs”. Both were consigned by Sir Henry Oxenden and were bought by George Yates. Bacchus and Ariadne are unidentified; the history of Homer, Apollo and the Muses between 1839 and Sir Ratan’s acquisition of it remains untraced.
What Christie’s had wrong, however, was the artist, whom they identified as the great French painter Nicolas Poussin (as
such it has remained in the Museum’s records). Homer, Apollo and the Muses are by Mattia Preti instead, a gifted artist from the south of Italy whose prolific career began in Rome (1630s–40s), flourished in Naples (1653–60), and concluded with a long sojourn on Malta (1661–99). That Poussin’s name could be attached to this painting points to its date around 1640 when Preti was moving away from a Caravaggesque phase to one that embraced neo-Venetian trends as exemplified in Poussin’s art. The low vantage point of Homer, Apollo and the Muses and its literary subject suggests that it could have decorated the ceiling of a library. No documents are known, however, that explain its origins.

Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection


European Paintings


Mattia Preti (1613–99)

Object Type

Oil Painting


Oil on Canvas




Oil paintings


16th century CE




c. 156 x 154 cm