George Randolph Barse, Jr. (aka George Randolph Barse)
North America, American
34 in. x 64 1/2 in. (86.36 cm x 163.83 cm)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
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.