Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse Joshua Reynolds Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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You can't mention seventeenth Century art without Joshua Reynolds' Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse. This oil on a canvas art was created around 1783-1784; up to date, it is unclear what the source of inspiration for the portrait was. Whether it's either the story of the actress Mrs. Sarah Siddons or the Roman and Greek mythology of Melpomene was the muse of music but turned to tragedy.

Most art fanatics are attracted to the artwork due to its authenticity, how uniquely emotive it is. It depicts the real-life struggles of the actor. Joshua Reynolds is till date one of the most celebrated and appreciated artists, how he breathed life into art was just astonishing. He perfected the art of creating paint portraits in Devonport. He lost his ears in the process, but at the same time, he was able to create pictures including a self-portrait at an impressively young age of fourteen years.

The day Sarah Siddons as the tragic muse art got created was not an ordinary day for Joshua Reynolds. When he saw Sarah Siddons, who was at the time a famous actress for her part in Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, he immediately knew she would make a great portrait. Siting like royalty, she made a posture that showed very controversial emotions, happy yet sadness was written all over her eyes. The world seemed distant since after giving her what she had, it took a lot from her in return.

Sarah Siddons as the tragic muse, can be interpreted to explain both Greek and Roman mythology. Melpomene of how a song which was supposed to be something good would always get followed by tragedy. In mythology, Melpomene means to celebrate with a song. The myth was a muse of song that later turned to be the muse to disaster. Melpomene, according to means to celebrate dancing, but in the paintings, Melpomene is shown by a mask and a knife she holds in her hands. Sarah Siddons as the tragic muse is owned by the Huntington Art Gallery in San Marino California. To ensure Joshua Reynolds did not lose attributes to Siddons as the tragic muse, his secretary signed his name on the hem of Mrs. Siddons dress on the painting.