Laurent de La Hyre (French, 16061656)
Oil on canvas; 41 5/8 x 56 3/4 in. (105.7 x 144.1 cm)
Charles B. Curtis Fund, 1950 (50.189)
In his depiction of an allegory of music as a classicized figure, seventeenth-century Baroque artist Laurent de La Hyre deliberately rendered the voluminous drapery to expose one breast. The details of dress are both studiously historical and inventively fictive. The button-closing sleeve treatment approximates the shoulder and sleeve closures of the chiton. But the red himation is gathered in folds, suggesting an excess of fullness beyond that of any Greek precedent. At the same time, the girdling strap anchors a small, narrow, and tightly twisted white scarf that is not typical of ancient dress. In this last instance, the scarf is a formal device of the painter, framing the left breast and underscoring its exposureand the allusion to antique practice.