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Apollo and the Muses on Mount Helicon

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Born in the Lorraine region of France, Claude settled early in Italy and spent most of his life painting the countryside around Rome, with its many associations to the ancient world. This painting, done when he was eighty-two years old, represents Apollo, god of poetry and music, surrounded by...

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Lower center: PARNASS[...]PARN[...]SS [...] CL[...]D[...] (indistinct)


1680, Prince Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna (b. 1637- d. 1689), Rome (original commission); probably until 1789, by descent within the family; 1789, probably sold by the Colonna family, Rome [see note 1]. Acquired in Rome by Robert Sloane (d. 1802); 1803/1804, imported to England by Sloane's widow; 1804, Sloane sale, Mr. Bryan's Picture Gallery, London, bought in; sold privately to William Buchanan (b. 1777 - d. 1864), London; May 24, 1808, Buchanan sale, Oxenden Street, London, lot 7, bought in [see note 2]. Rev. William Holwell Carr (b. 1758 - d. 1830), London (?) [see note 3]. Walsh Porter (d. 1809), Bath (?); sold or passed by descent to Porter's brother-in-law, William Scrope (b. 1772 - d. 1852), Castle Coombe, Wiltshire; June 10, 1815, Scrope sale, Christie, Manson, and Woods, London, lot 10, withdrawn; April 6, 1816, Scrope sale, Christie, Manson and Woods, lot A92, to Bernard Pinney (for Scrope?) [see note 4]. By 1824, possibly Aynard collection, Paris (?) [see note 5]. May 10, 1827, possibly anonymous sale, George Stanley, London, lot 92 (?) [see note 6]. Edward Gray; by 1854, sold by Gray to Wynn Ellis (b. 1790 - d. 1875), London [see note 7]; June 17, 1876, Ellis estate sale, Christie, Manson and Woods, London, lot 6, to Waters; probably acquired from Waters by William Graham (b. 1817 - d. 1885), Oakdene, near Guildford, Surrey; April 8, 1886, Graham estate sale, Christie, Manson and Woods, London, lot 376, to William Grindlay (d. by 1887), London; April 23, 1887, posthumous Grindlay sale, Christie, Manson, and Woods, London, lot 99. 1889, Thomas Humphry Ward (b. 1845 - d. 1926), London [see note 8]. June 28, 1890, anonymous sale, Christie, Manson, and Woods, lot 95, to Sir William James Farrer (b. 1845 - d. 1906), London; March 23, 1912, posthumous Farrer sale, Christie, Manson and Woods, London, lot 5, to Agnew, London (stock no. 3915); April 29, 1912, sold by Agnew to Trotti et Cie., Paris; 1912, sold by Trotti to the MFA for 180 pounds (British sterling). (Accession Date: October 3, 1912) NOTES: [1] See Marcel Röthlisberger, "Claude Lorrain, The Paintings." (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961), vol. 1, no. LV 193, pp. 451-454. Röthlisberger identifies the painting in Filippo III Colonna's 1783 inventory (no. 152) and in a Colonna inventory of 1787 (no. 78). [2] Information on the sales was first provided in a letter to the MFA from Burton Fredericksen (September 6, 1988) and can also be accessed online at the Getty Provenance Index ( Description of Sale Catalog Br-273; Description of Sale Catalog Br-587. [3] According to Röthlisberger (as above, n. 1), Carr is recorded as the owner in the inscription found on an aquatint of 1812 and he "probably put up [the painting at auction] under the more famous name of Porter" in 1815 and 1816. Curiously, in discussing the history of the Colonna Parnassus imported by Sloane, Buchanan does not mention it among the paintings he sold in 1808, nor those owned by Porter or Carr, who had been his business partner. See his "Memoirs of Painting" (London, 1824), vol. 2, pp. 112-117. [4] The auction catalogue of 1816 includes it among the paintings that had belonged to Walsh Porter, although unlike the others from his collection, it did not appear in his posthumous sales (April 14, 1810, June 21, 1811). There can be no doubt that this is the MFA painting, however, as its description in the Scrope sales of 1815 and 1816 matches that of the MFA work. According to information provided by the Getty Provenance Index (Description of Sale Catalog Br-1376) this painting was bought in and remained with Scrope until his after his death in 1852. This would make its ownership by Aynard by 1824 impossible. [5] Buchanan (as above, n. 3), pp. 117, 389. [6] It is unclear whether this is the painting now at the MFA. The sale catalogue does not describe the painting, except to say that it is known as the 'Colonna Claude' and it 'is too well known to need description'. It can be assumed that this refers to the MFA composition, although several paintings by Claude Lorrain were in the Colonna collection. The catalogue gives the provenance as Rev. Holwell Carr, Mr. Walsh Porter, and Lord Kinnaird. It has not been indicated elsewhere that the MFA painting was owned by Kinnaird. [7] Gustav Friedrich Waagen, "Treasures of Art of Great Britain," vol. 2 (London, 1854), p. 294, no. 3. [8] According to Rothlisberger (as above, n. 1) he lent the painting to an exhibition at Whitechapel, St. Jude's, 1889, no. 97.

Credit Line

Picture Fund



99.7 x 136.5 cm (39 1/4 x 53 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas