Titian, ‘Bacchus and Ariadne’, 1520–3 – Elim

Gallery

Titian, ‘Bacchus and Ariadne’, 1520–3

Titian, taking both Classical poets Catullus and as sources, depicts the moment when the love-struck god and mortal’s eyes meet. Bacchus is so moved by the sight of Ariadne that he leaps impulsively, in a quite remarkable and unprecedented pose, out of his carriage towards his new love. In a brief space of time she is transported from losing her lover to finding a greater love. Her balletic pose and swirling red scarf mirrors the posture of Bacchus, reinforcing their immediate attraction.

Bacchus is followed by his rowdy retinue of satyrs and wood nymphs which are, as might be expected of friends of the god of wine, shown carousing and merrymaking. Titian excels in the meticulous detail applied to every section of the canvas, from the exotic cheetahs and the botanically accurate caper flowers, to the yellow fabric and urn in the foreground on which he chose to paint his signature.

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