viernes, 10 de febrero de 2017


I should have done this commentary on this mural from the US Library of Congress as part of last year's fourth centennial events, but, alas, I was kept too busy with other things to do.
Anyway, better late than never, they say...

Literature depicts a varied group of male and female figures sitting or standing. Apollo, the God of Letters, sits in the foreground of a Greek temple surrounded by a company of maidens (the Muses) reading an ancient scroll. On the right, are the muses of Comedy and Tragedy, the former reclining against a printing press. In the foreground a woman instructs two children in the rudiments of learning. On the left a dreamy poet reclines and reads the Homeric epics beside a bust of Homer while his muse hovers above him. Next to him a standing figure of Fame holds out a crown of laurel above the head of a seated poet who is deep in thought. Below are the names of countries notable for their contributions to literature: Greece (furthest on the left, below the Homeric reader and the muse of epic, symbolizing Homeric/classical-era literature), Italy (in the middle, below Apollo and most of the muses, excluding those of epic and the performing arts, symbolizing Renaissance/late medieval literature), and England (furthest on the right, below the muses of the performing arts and the printing press, symbolizing Shakespearean/early modern literature).

The painting is by William de Leftwich Dodge.
Wall plaques, clockwise from the northwest corner, bear the names: LITERATURE, Greece, Italy, England. Their arrangement from left to right mirrors the subjects of the allegories above; a mise-en-scène not left at all to chance.

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