MANTEGNA, Andrea
(b. 1431, Isola di Carturo, d. 1506, Mantova)

Parnassus (detail)

1497
Tempera on canvas
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Mercury, the patron of virtue, the god who endows the eloquent with their swift-winged words and inventors and sages with their creative thoughts, is in conversation with Pegasus, the Muses' winged horse who symbolizes Virtus or Purity. Pegasus has lifted his hoof which, when it struck the ground, created Hyppocrene, the spring of the Muses in the Helicon Mountains in Boetia. It appears in the centre foreground of the painting.