Agar was drawn to the image of the lyre (compare her 1973 collage Apollo’s Lyre), partly for the richness of its significance. Invented by either Hermes or Apollo, it not only symbolises divine harmony but is also poetry made manifest. It is the attribute of Erato, muse of lyric poetry, and of Terpsichore, muse of dance and song. Apollo defeated Marsyas in a musical contest, and punished him savagely for his hubris, later repenting and breaking his lyre. The strings were also symbolic: a seven-stringed instrument represented the seven planets, a twelve-stringed one the signs of the zodiac. In The Lyre Man, Agar amalgamates instrument and player into one tense and resonant shape, like someone on horseback. Beautifully mottled and overpainted, this strong image is typical of Agar’s maturity, uniting the urge to decorativeness with layers of meaning and reference.