10 Legendary Muses in Art History

For centuries, in the history of art many master artists captivated by heir muses have created remarkable masterpieces. The magnetic force of the muse has proved to expand the mesmerized artists’ creativity. It’s interesting how the intensity and nature of muse-artist relationship clearly reflects on the artworks. We have featured some of the most popular muses’ who have been responsible for inspiring renowned artists’ in creating highly creative and incredible paintings.

Emilie Louise Flöge an Austrian fashion designer and successful businesswoman made a lasting impression on the symbolist painter Gustav Klimt. A creative, free-spirited and an accomplished woman, who led a bohemian life style had much in common with the artist. She is known to be his life companion, in his final moments Klimt’s last words were "Get Emilie". She modeled for his paintings, designed attires for the figures in his artworks and greatly influenced the decorative patterns of his paintings.



Gala Dalí, a powerful inspiration for her husband Salvador Dalí, was also a muse for many other writers and artists of her time. She modeled for some of the best known paintings and sculptures created by her husband. The surrealist painter was so enamored by his wife that eventually he started signing his paintings with his and her name. He stated "(i)t is mostly with your blood, Gala, that I paint my pictures".




Lydia Corbett was an inspiration that lead Pablo Picasso into creating 60+ remarkable artworks. She was a charming 19-year-old at the time she met the artist, she tied her blonde hair in a typical high ponytail fashion with fringes. At the first meeting itself he was taken by her youthfulness, innocence and her timid nature. Art historians have termed this phase of Picasso’s art as his ‘Ponytail Period’ and the artworks as ‘Sylvette series’ (Lydia was then called Sylvette). Lydia Corbett is an artist in her own right who has held numerous successful exhibitions of her remarkable artworks.



George Dyer was a petty criminal when he met British painter Francis Bacon. It is said that Dyer was caught by Bacon conducting burglary into the artist's apartment. Bacon latter stated that he was attracted to Dyer's helplessness and immaturity, Dyer on the other hand was awe-struck by the artist’s intellect and self-confidence. Their fiery and passionate relationship led the artist to create some of his most original and creative portraits and artworks.



Victorine Meurent modeled for many impressionist artists however she was predominantly featured in most of the masterpieces made by Edouard Manet. The artist is said to have been charmed by her when he first saw Meurent in the street carrying her guitar, she use to play the instrument in café-concerts. ‘The Luncheon on the Grass’ and ‘Olympia’ (Shown below) are the two most popular artworks that feature her nude portrayal. An accomplished artist herself, she regularly exhibited at the prestigious Paris Salon.



Saskia van Uylenburgh, wife of painter Rembrandt van Rijn served as his muse for numerous masterpieces. The artists featured her in many of his mythical, biblical and historical themed artworks and painted numerous portraits of her. Saskia died after giving birth to their fourth child Titus's, most likely from tuberculosis. There’s a collection of touching artworks which he lovingly created of her while she was sick on her death bed.



Camille Monet, wife and muse of French painter Claude Monet has been featured in number of his masterpieces. 'The Woman in the Green Dress’, which earned Monet critical acclaim at the Paris salon, is the most popular painting which features her as a subject. Besides being Monet's muse, she also modeled for other known Impressionist artists, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edouard Manet. Tragically, Camille died very young due to pelvic cancer, grief-stricken Monet made numerous intense and expressive paintings of his dead wife.



Elizabeth Siddal, a talented artist herself, inspired her husband Dante Gabriel Rossetti and other artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. She has been the central subject of Rossetti's symbolic and mythological paintings and drawings which have been said to amount in thousands. Rossetti represented Siddal as Dante's Beatrice in one of his most famous works, Beata Beatrix. While posing for artist John Everett Millais' ‘Ophelia’ (Shown below) in 1852, Siddal floated in a bathtub full of water to represent the drowning Ophelia. Millais painted daily into the winter putting lamps under the tub to warm the water.




Frida Kahlo once stated “I am my own muse, I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to know better.” In her life-time Frida Kahlo created 55 self-portraits. The experience of excruciating physical pain (due to a childhood accident) and emotional turmoil owing to her tumultuous personal life is characteristically represented by her in her self-portraits.



Camille Claudel, a famed French sculptor started her relationship with artist Auguste Rodin as his pupil eventually became his companion and inspiration. Quoted as a ‘woman genius’ by the art critics, she not only played the role of a muse but also influenced sculptor Auguste Rodin’s art style. Interestingly, their turbulent and passionate relationship echo’s on both, Rodin’s and Claudel’s artworks.


2 comments:

  1. Nice post, things explained in details. Thank You.

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    1. Thank you. I'm glad you liked the post :)

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