Raphael Morghen (Italian, Neapolitan, 1758–1833), after Anton Raphael Mengs (German, 1728–1779)
Engraving and etching; first state before letters
plate 19 3/4 x 29 15/16 in. (50.2 x 76 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1928 (28.22.36)
One of the most significant commissions of the eighteenth century was the Parnassus painted by Mengs in 1761 for the Villa Albani, Rome, and hailed as a manifesto of the new style of Neoclassicism. The carefully differentiated Muses, accompanied by their mother, Mnemosyne, derive from ancient sculpture, while the setting, a small grove of laurels in which the Muses are grouped around their leader, harks back to Raphael's fresco in the Vatican.
Morghen was one of the most admired of the technically accomplished reproductive engravers whose replicas of famous paintings were so prized at the end of the eighteenth century.