When you first learn how to read and write music, you are introduced to the “Classical Greats” like Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Mozart, Schubert, Tchaikovsky and Brahms. Their scales and trills, harmonies and chords are the basis of many musical journeys. Below we illustrate a famous portrait of Mozart in Vienna, the music score of the clarinet quintet, and a portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach (aged 61).
But music is also ever present throughout history as a subject in paintings, mosaics, and home furnishings. This painting by Francois Boucher is a masterful example of the French Rococo style from the 18th century.
In this delicate exchange between the personification of music and her putti offering a harp and flute, Francois Boucher creates a circular reference to both receiving and creating as a universal endeavor. The putti want to hear music while Music reacts with interest and an open music book. This voyeuristic view of the trio heightened by pastel colors of blue, orange, and pink
François Boucher, Allegory of Music, 1764.
In this Renaissance painting by Johannes Vermeer, a young woman receives a music lesson at a virginal (like a harpsichord) from a male teacher. The pairing suggests that love and music are intertwined. A warm light from the side window casts a spell of immediacy to the figures in the far back of a room typical of Bruges in the late 17th century.
Johannes Vermeer, Lady at the Virginal with a Gentleman, ‘The Music Lesson’, 1662-1665.
Here is another example of a muse carrying instruments. It is a mosaic made from small stones inlaid in the floor. Euterpe Muse of music carries a wind instrument (flute?) and awaits your instructions. This example dates back to ancient Roman times.
Detail of the Vichten mosaic depicting the mythological and literary theme of the nine Muses, Euterpe Muse of music and lyric poetry, c. 240 AD, National Museum of History and Art, Luxembourg
Museum’s website: https://www.mnha.lu/en/collections/archaeology
See below how references to music, composers and instruments are incorporated into other art pieces for your home.