This is one of four large limestone figures that were originally installed as part of a set of 15 in the Palazzo Pisani in Venice, where they were placed in niches above the stairs leading to the library. As they were seen only from the front, their backs were left in a rough state. Gai has represented them as graceful, elongated creatures in greatly animated poses, wearing rich, wavy draperies. The figures are allegories, representing symbolically abstract concepts, or Muses, goddesses of the liberal arts. Their presence in connection with a library would allude to the pursuit of virtue through the study of the sciences and arts. Their individual identities remain uncertain, though some of their attributes correspond to those of figures in the "Iconologia," a widely read emblem book (a book of symbols and their meanings) by Cesare Ripa (Italian, ca. 1560-ca. 1625), first published in 1593.
This allegorical figure or Muse holds an open book. With delicately posed fingers she grips a now-broken object, which might have been a writing tool.
Raoul Heilbronner, Paris; Glaenzer and Co., New York; Henry Walters, Baltimore, after 1900, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.