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L'Alliance de la Poésie et de la Musique (The Alliance of Poetry and Music)

Accession Number
1994/1.81

Title
L'Alliance de la Poésie et de la Musique (The Alliance of Poetry and Music)

Artist(s)
Charles Joseph Natoire

Object Creation Date
circa 1746

Medium & Support
oil on panel

Dimensions
12 1/16 in x 15 1/16 in (30.64 cm x 38.26 cm)

Credit Line
Museum purchase made possible by the George Green Fund

Label copy
March 28, 2009
This allegorical painting celebrates the union of two branches of the arts, poetry and music. Poetry is represented by the female figure clad in blue, while the figure draped in red is the personification of Music. Poetry, whose attributes typically include a lyre and a laurel wreath, is shown about to be crowned by a putto—a divine figure in the form of a plump, naked boy, often with wings. Music is shown holding a musical score opened to a scene from the famous seventeenth-century opera Armide. It is in opera after all that the art forms of poetry and music are joined. The two medallions attached to the columns in the background feature bust-length portraits of Armide’s composers, Philippe Quinault, who wrote the libretto (text), and Jean Baptiste Lully, who composed the score.
Natoire was celebrated for his paintings depicting sweet, softly yet richly colored figures. In his day, Natoire was considered the equal to artists more renowned today such as Francois Boucher, prized for his knowledge of Italian antiquity and his successful adoption of techniques borrowing from ancient Rome. This painting dates from just before Natoire’s assumption of the presidency of the French Academy in Rome in 1751.

Subject matter
Two women clad in flowing robes sit beneath a curved colonnade at the center of this delicately painted scene. The woman on the left, wearing a blue mantle, holds a lyre in her right hand and leans toward her companion, who holds open a musical score on her lap to which she points with her right hand. Books are piled on the steps next to the woman on the left and a putto sits next to her with a scroll unrolled across his lap. A second putto stands next to the other seated woman and plays a viol. A winged putto hovers over the heads of the two women, holding a small trumpet in his left hand and a laurel crown in his right, which he is about to place on the head of the woman with the lyre. Two bust-length portraits of men in oval frames wreathed with laurel hang from the columns in the background.

Physical Description
Two women clad in flowing robes sit beneath a curved colonnade at the center of this delicately painted scene. The woman on the left, wearing a blue mantle, holds a lyre in her right hand and leans toward her companion, who holds open a musical score on her lap to which she points with her right hand. Books are piled on the steps next to the woman on the left and a putto sits next to her with a scroll unrolled across his lap. A second putto stands next to the other seated woman and plays a viol. A winged putto hovers over the heads of the two women, holding a small trumpet in his left hand and a laurel crown in his right, which he is about to place on the head of the woman with the lyre. Two bust-length portraits of men in oval frames wreathed with laurel hang from the columns in the background.

Primary Object Classification
Painting

Primary Object Type
figure painting

Additional Object Classification(s)
Painting

Collection Area
Western

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
allegory (artistic device)
literary theory
lyres
music (performing arts)
oil paintings (visual works)
portraits
putti (motifs)
violoncellos

& Author Notes

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