Luca Giordano

Young Bacchus Sleeping

Young Bacchus Sleeping
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Luca Giordano
Painting, Oil on canvas, 246.5x329 cm
Origin: Italy, 1680s

From the Renaissance period the legend of Bacchus was a favourite subject in Western European art. Son of Zeus and the Theban queen Semele, Bacchus was god of wine-growing and wine-making. With time he came to be seen as the embodiment of nature's powerful life forces, the subconscious origin of all life, the sensuality of earthly existence. In Giordano's painting the young god has thrown himself on an animal skin tossed on the stones. His face and breast are deep in shade and around him the bacchante and satyrs whisper to each other. Numerous animals have gathered round - fluffy sheep, a deer with proud bearing, a tiger being stroked by a small satyr and in the depth of the night landscape is the sea. Giordano was always interested in lighting effects and here the light glides across the picture creating a sense of mystery, not dispelling the gloom but picking out odd details, yet the shadows are so transparent that the colours are still clear even in the darkness.

Personage: Bacchus
Style: Baroque
Source of entry: Collection of Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall, 1779
School: Naples
Theme: Classical Religion and Mythology
Exibition: Italian Art: 13th - 18th centuries

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