BALEN, Hendrick van
(b. 1575, Antwerpen, d. 1632, Antwerpen)

Minerva and the Nine Muses

Oil on panel, 78 x 108 cm
Private collection

Ovid describes (Met. 5:250-268) how Minerva visited the Muses on Mt helicon, their home, to listen to their song and story and to see the sacred spring, the Hippocrene, which flowed from a rock after it had been struck by the hoof of the winged horse, Pegasus. The scene is a wooded mountain-side where the company of Muses are playing their instruments. Minerva is just arriving. Pegasus is seen in the background leaping from a high rock from which water gushes. The association of Minerva and the Muses was in line with the tradition that made her patroness of the arts.