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Portraits in the Characters of the Muses in the Temple of Apollo

2 of 7 portraits of Angelica Kauffmann

Portraits in the Characters of the Muses in the Temple of Apollo, by Richard Samuel, exhibited 1779 - NPG 4905 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Portraits in the Characters of the Muses in the Temple of Apollo

by Richard Samuel
oil on canvas, exhibited 1779
52 in. x 61 in. (1321 mm x 1549 mm)
Purchased, 1972
Primary Collection
NPG 4905


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In this unusual group portrait, Richard Samuel celebrated nine of Britain's artistic and intellectual women. He depicted them as 'Muses', ancient Greek goddesses who personified the arts and sciences. They wear classical-style robes and are assembled beneath a statue of Apollo, God of the arts. Many of the women in this portrait were Bluestockings - members of a network of female artists, writers and scholars. All except the literary critic and salon hostess Elizabeth Montagu earned a living from their work. The singer Elizabeth Ann Sheridan is in the centre, holding a lyre. The artist Angelica Kauffman sits at an easel. Other women include the historian Catharine Macaulay, the playwright and anti-slavery campaigner Hannah More and the classicist Elizabeth Carter.

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