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George Randolph Barse

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Image of Two Muses

George Randolph Barse, Jr. (aka George Randolph Barse)
American, 1861–1938

Two Muses

1894

Object Type: Painting
Creation Place: North America, American
Dimensions:
34 in. x 64 1/2 in. (86.36 cm x 163.83 cm)
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Accession Number: 1992.0006

Credit Line: Given in memory of Mrs. Files Crenshaw, Sr., by her daughter, Mrs. Robert Goldthwaite, with additional gifts from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association, and Beverly and Ray Sacks

Currently On View


Barse was a decorative artist and painter who worked in the classicizing style of the American Renaissance. He undertook many architectural commissions, including mural and ceiling paintings for the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress.

The lunette shape of "Two Muses" indicates its original function as a decorative architectural element, intended for placement above a doorway or perhaps a window. As is typical of the American Renaissance style, the two female figures—dressed in flowing classical drapery—represent figures from mythology, in this case the minor goddesses known as Muses. Daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (or Memory), the Muses inspired intellectual and artistic creativity, in particular poetry, literature, music, dance, and visual arts. There are nine Muses, and the presence of only two in this panel suggests that Barse may have designed a suite of paintings dedicated to the entire group, which would have been installed above other doorways or windows in the room.

American Paintings from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, cat. no. 40, p. 112.

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