Bacchanale (1625-1626)

Poussin, Nicolas (1594-1665)

Bacchanale (Bacchanal)
Oil on canvas, 122 x 169 cm
Museo del PradoMadrid

This is a traditional scene from the iconography of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. It depicts his meeting with Ariadne on the island of Naxos. The god rides a chariot pulled by lions, and helps his future wife, who was abandoned by Theseus, to climb aboard (Ovid, Metamorphoses, VIII). They are accompanied by Bacchus’s habitual retinue of bacchants, satyrs and menads, led by Silenus on a donkey. The scene is framed by vegetation, with the sea in the background. Titian‘s influence stands out here, as in other works by Poussin, and his interest in details and in rendering the finest qualities of secondary elements such as Nature and different objects. This painting was listed in the collection of King Felipe V at the Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, and was moved from there to the Prado Museum in 1829. (MNP)

See also:

• Ovid (43 BC-17/18 AD): The Metamorphoses (English)