Laura Murphey [NRP 2021] : The source of artistic creation, left panel, 2021.


SAL record control number: 103280 ;

Record level: Item ;

Record type: Movable work ;


Work title: The source of artistic creation, left panel  [from curator] ;

Alternate work titles:
2021 : The source of artistic creation, left panel  [from curator] ;

Work date: 2021  [from artist] ;

Work creator: Laura Murphey [NRP 2021] ;

Work medium: Oil ;
Work dimensions: ? x ? inches [unframed] | ? x ? inches [framed] ;

Inscribed / signed front: [none] ;


SAL category: Oil ;
SAL sub-category: Allegory ; figures ; dancing ;

Archives of American Art subjects:

Description of work:

The Allegory:
The Source of Artistic Creation

The Idea:
Artistic Creation is the sum of knowledge plus practice plus divine inspiration.

The Agents:
Knowledge personified by a woman reading a book
Practice personified by a man holding tools
Divine Inspiration personified by ballet dancers

Knowledge: book, flambeau, laurel crown. Knowledge is personified by a woman in a pose referenced from Iconologia by Cesare Ripa. Symbols of knowledge include reading a book (“Allegory of Painting” – Vermeer), the holding of a flambeau, the wearing of a laurel crown (“Allegory of Painting” – Vermeer). A flame used to provide light symbolizes the concepts of illumination and enlightenment. (Plato – Allegory of the Cave)

downward gaze toward the earth, tools of the artist, grindstone. Practice is personified by a man in a pose loosely referenced from Iconologia. Symbols of practice include the downward gaze toward the earth, the tools of the artist (palette, brushes, and a mahl stick used as a cane), and the grindstone.

Divine Inspiration:
Nine ballerinas. Divine Inspiration is personified by nine ballerinas representing the nine muses of Greek mythology.

Iconologia was a “highly influential emblem book based on Egyptian, Greek, and Roman emblematical representations, many of them personifications”, according to Wikipedia. “”The book was used by orators, artists, poets and “modern Italians” to give substance to qualities such as virtues, vices, passion and sciences. The book was extremely influential in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and was quoted extensively in various art forms.” The illustrated version was published in 1618. In Iconologia, as well as other emblem books, a motto and text explained the connection between an image and a motto or idea.

The Muses of the classical world were “goddesses, upon whom poets-and later other artists, philosophers, and intellectuals generally-depended for the ability to create their works”, according to the Oxford Classical Dictionary. The canonical nine were Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Euterpe (flute playing), Terpsichore (lyric poetry and dancing, especially choral), Erato (lyric poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Thalia (comedy), Polyhymnia (hymns and pantomime), Urania (astronomy). The Muses protect people who are dedicated to the arts.

Ballet is considered a classical art, even though the Greeks knew nothing of it. The origins of ballet lie in the Renaissance and the rediscovery of ancient texts. Ever since, dancers and ballet masters everywhere have seen ballet as a classicizing art and have sought to root it in the aesthetic values-and prestige-of fifth century Athens. Apollo holds a special place in the story. His noble physique and perfect proportions represent an ideal; he is moderation and beauty. He is the son of Zeus and the leader of the Muses. Cultivated and beautiful, the Muses are the daughters of Zeus and, not accidentally, Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. For dancers, moreover, Apollo is more than an ideal. He is a concrete physical presence, and they work daily, consciously or not, to remake themselves in his image.

“So oft I invoked thee for My Muse And found such fair assistance in my verse” -Shakespeare, Sonnet LXXVIII

2021 Laura Murphey [NRP 2021], the artist .

Exhibition history:
2021 SCNY Allegory today : the library commission November 8-19.

References / citations:



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Record birth date:
November 3, 2021

Last updated: November 3, 2021 at 13:12 pm