Antiquity was an endless source of inspiration for Renaissance artists. In 1496-97, Michelangelo created a standing marble figure of a Bacchus, which seems to be the model for our figure. The Greek god stands in an exaggerated classical contrapposto position on a rectangular base. In his right hand he holds a tazza (wine cup) and in his left a bunch of grapes. Dionysus leans against a tree stump covered by an animal skin and grapevines, which curl up and cover his genitals. Wine was his gift to his followers, who drank it in abundant quantities and indulged themselves at orgies that accompanied the ritualistic ceremonies dedicated to him. The basic characteristic of these rituals was ecstasy, through which the god's intoxicated followers accomplished their spiritual union with him, as the gift of the god was passed through their bodies.
An almost identical bronze statue of Bacchus at the Dresden Museum, work of the 18th-century French sculptor Pierre Garnier (ca. 1720-1800, master 1742), makes it likely that this displayed bronze came from the same workshop. Such an object would fit the aesthetics of the Baroque period, during which French sculpture and painting had already attained their distinctive classical character during the reign of Louis XIV. However, the several versions in which the same statuette appears in the 18th and 19th centuries prevent us from accurately dating our own casting. Never-the-less, all these replicas demonstrate the long-lasting interest in ancient Greco-Roman civilization, which the Renaissance masters and scholars initiated and the Neoclassicists prolonged. Bacchus thus attests to the influence of Renaissance art on European creativity of the following centuries.
Chrysoula Politou, in "SCHOLARS, EXPLORERS, PRIESTS, How the Renaissance Gave Us the Modern World," ex. cat. G -T M, Queens College, CUNY, February 2 - March 27, 2010, 1.
|Dimensions||H-18.75 W-7.25 inches|
|Year Range from||1720|
|Year Range to||1800|
18th century AD
Green and Roman
|Exhibition and Publication History||
* "A Selection From the Queens College Art Collection," Klapper, 1979, #36
* "SCHOLARS, EXPLORERS, PRIESTS, How the Renaissance Gave Us the Modern World," Curated by James M. Saslow, G -T M, Queens College, CUNY, February 2 - March 27, 2010, # 1, ill.