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A close friend of James McNeill Whistler, Albert Joseph Moore aimed to use colour, line, and rhythmic balance of form to create beautiful visual art in the same way that music used rhythm and tone to create beautiful sound. This painting of two women entranced by a musician with his lyre derives from an ancient Roman wall painting from Herculaneum that Moore studied in the British museum. Here, the pair adopt an enervated, melancholy state, which suggests aesthetic ecstasy. But the classical references are balanced and adapted to the taste of the aesthetic movement with the addition of Japanese fans and unclassical wall decoration. The amoralism of the aesthetic movement, and absence of any narrative or moralizing content in the work of artists like Moore, aroused the suspicions of contemporary critics.


A Musician




oil on canvas


H 28.6 x W 38.7 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Paul Mellon Fund

Work type



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Yale Center for British Art

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