"To be a Muse"

by Rosa Anguas

The word 'muse' originates from Greek mythology. The Greek gods Zeus and Mnemosyne had nine daughters named the Muses. If the muses loved a man, then the man's worries instantly disappeared. The man who was loved by the 'muses' was considered to be more sacred than a holy man.

 

"Minerva and the Muses" (1640-1645) Oil on canvas, 116 x 162 cm - 45 5/8 x 63 3/4 in. Jacques Stella.

Many artists, writers, poets and musicians have said that their creative work was inspired by someone whom they call their muse. Generally speaking, a 'muse' is someone with such an influence on them that she becomes the focus and inspiration for that person's creative work. In Painting, the term 'muse' describes the artist's favorite model. And quite often, they have been the artist's wives too. This is my case.

 

"The Poet Anacreon with his Muses" (1890) Oil on canvas, 71 x 130 cm - 27 7/8 x 51 1/8 in. Norbert Schroedl.

    Although my husband Gabriel Picart occasionally works with other models, I am the one in the most of his figure paintings. In the history of Painting Art there are many examples of the same thing. To name a few: the beautiful Saskia van Uylenburgh, married to the great Dutch painter Rembrandt, was the model for many of his paintings and drawings; Elizabeth Siddal, a painter's model who became Dante Gabriel Rossetti's wife and his visual image of the ideal woman; Alma Tadema's second wife, a successful painter herself called Laura Epps, who appears in many of his pictures with curly red or brown hair, rosy cheeks, and solid rather than fine-boned features; and to come closer, each of the women Pablo Picasso met and loved throughout his life became his 'muse'.

 

"Saskia van Uylenburg in a Red Hat" (circa 1633-1642). Rembrandt.

Besides the aesthetic inspiration that a model's features and expression cause on an artist, which is the main reason to become a model, a really good one also plays an important part in the creative process of the making of each painting. For example, a talented fine model can help the artists choose different poses so as to select which ones are most conducive for shaping a painting. Needless to say, the more intimate the artist and model, the better they can work together. When this collaboration endures over time, a model becomes a 'muse'.

 

"Sancta Lilias" (1874) Oil on canvas, 48.3 x 45.7 cm - 19 x 17 7/8 in. Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

But more than this, quite often the role of the 'muse' has gone far beyond simply posing. A frequent model of Frederick Carl Frieseke was his wife, and together they shopped for costumes, including the parasols that were so frequently held by his subjects in sunlit flower gardens. I also go with my husband to buy or rent the costumes for his paintings, mainly the Spanish shawls, which I love. It's great fun to be part of the making of a piece of art.

 

 

"Life in the Garden, Giverny" (1910-1912) Oil on canvas. Frederick Carl Frieseke.

    And this part is not small. Without the 'muse' (these inspirational women who have loved, helped and encouraged the artist) a wealth of paintings would be missing from the world. I am very happy and honored to be one of them.

 

"The Arcade" (detail) Oil on panel, 101,6 x 76,2 cm / 40 x 30 in. Gabriel Picart.


Rosa Anguas has been an art dealer for over ten years. Since 2007, she is the managing director of Siartgroup, and art brokerage firm that she has founded, based in Barcelona, Spain. She married Gabriel Picart in 1991, and is the model for most of his female figure paintings.

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