Thalia and Melpomene

Two Muses (Erato and Melpomene), c.1500-1505

In Greek mythology, the Muses were the nine goddesses of creative inspiration in the arts, each having her own sphere of influence. One may be Thalia, the Muse of comedy and pastoral poetry, usually shown with a mask and a musical instrument, while the other is likely Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy, typically shown with a mask and small horn. Thalia plays a lyre placed on a small altar dedicated to Deo. Max., possibly the sun god, Apollo.

This composition is based on a fresco in the Strozzi Chapel in the church of Santa Maria Novella, painted between 1493/94 and 1502 by Filippino Lippi, a leading Florentine painter. It has been attributed to an unknown member of Filippino's workshop, who is called "Master of Memphis," named for another important work attributed to him, "Saint Francis in Glory" now in Memphis (Brooks Museum). We are grateful to Jonathan Nelson for clarifying the attribution and date of this work.

Two Muses (Erato and Melpomene)
Artist Life
1457/58 - 1504
Accession Number
[Giuseppe Bellisi, London, England, before 1940].[1] Rex Beaumont ('), Belvedere House, Ireland by 1965; (sale, 'Beaumont, Christie's, London, November 26, 1965, no. 120, repr., as attributed to Workshop of Filippino Lippi, for $1,118 US dollars [380 gns], to Arcade Galleries);[2] [Arcade Galleries, London, from 1965]; [H. [Herman] Shickman Gallery, New York, until 1967; sold to Mia] [1] Art dealer Giuseppe Bellisi was active during the years 1937-1938. [2] Sale catalogue lists the picture as "property of a gentleman," however the annotated copy lists Rex Beaumont (') as the owner.
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

Zoom in on the left to the detail you'd like to save. Click 'Save detail' and wait until the image updates. Right click the image to 'save image as' or copy link, or click the image to open in a new tab.

Thalia and Melpomene