Everyone is smitten with the half-man half-god that was Orpheus. Even the skeptical Carol Ann Duffy sounds sneakily admiring about:
"the kind of a man
who follows her round
while she reads them,
calls her his Muse,
and once sulked for a night and a day
because she remarked on his weakness for abstract nouns."
- Carol Ann Duffy, from The World's Wife Vancouver, Anvil Press: 1999.
Is he a charlatan? Who cares when he is such an enchanter?
Here we are light years away from the nightmarish vision of the Jan Brueghel the Elder, a world inhabited by lizards in red nightcaps, moths with owls' heads and a couple marooned in a boat in the branches of a tree. Monteverdi in 16th century Mantua emphasized the tragic undertones in Orpheus' music. There is a deliciously comic aspect to Mueller's Orpheus. His multicolored lyre entrances humans and animals alike, its notes float in the air like so many joyous balloons.
Stephen Mueller (1947-2011) was an American painter whose work was never completely abstract; he incorporated spiritual motifs from Persian miniatures to Mexican ceramics.
Image: Stephen Mueller, Orpheo 2, 2010, acrylic on canvas, Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute,