Vous êtes dans un espace d'archives.   Découvrez le nouveau site Musagora !

-

 D I O N Y S O S 
Site
Introduction - The myth The attributes of the godThe cult - Festival days in Athens - Antique iconography - Modern iconography - Dionysos and the theatre - Greek theatre and Euripide's Bacchae - Dionysos in ancient Greek literature - References and links 
Activities
Study of iconography - Bacchus, myth and cult - Sophocles' Antigone

sommaire du site
Contact us

Modern iconography

  XVIth century     XVIIth century     XVIIIth century  

XVIth century

Bartolomeo di Giovanni : The Wedding of Thetis and Peleus

Thetis and Peleus (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Dionysos (detail) -  © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Silenus (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Bacchanal (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing
© Louvre.edu

The right side of the panel is filled by a bacchanal of maenads and satyrs, bordered by grey-bearded Silenus beside the belly of the Buddha, whose abandoned body is delivered to the pranks of dwarf satyrs. One of them nourishes, with the juice from a bunch of grapes, a horned and swollen-bellied Dionysos, gaunt cheeks and faraway gaze. The nebride (skin of a fawn), which he has knotted incongruously in the form of a belt, is the only clear sign by which he can be identified.

Mantegna, Lorenzo Costa : The Reign of Comus (1507)

The reign of Comus  - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Comus, Venus and his son Anteros (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Apollo, Other depiction of Venus and Cupid (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Dionysos and Nikaia (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing
© Louvre.edu

This painting, commissioned by Isabelle d'Este of Mantegna, must have been the fourth allegory decorating her studiolo. It was painted by Lorenzo Costa, after the death of Mantegna, respecting the composition which Costa had planned for. The painting depicts Comus, the joyful god of festivities from Philostratus' Imagine : permissible pleasures are illustrated on the left-hand side of the painting, separated from the forbidden pleasures at the bottom right of the painting, by means of a diagonally positioned triumphal arch. The foreground possibly illustrates an episode from Dionysos' love life narrated in Nonnos' Dionysiaca (books 15 and 16) : the love of Dionysos and Nikaia, the Phrygian naiad. Dionysos is conveyed as a tender lover, similar to the one who won Ariadne's heart in Naxos. Nikaia is depicted sleeping, common in illustrations of Dionysos and Ariadne.

Leonardo da Vinci (workshop) : Bacchus

Bacchus  - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Bacchus (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Bacchus (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing
© Louvre.edu

The Bacchus of Leonardo da Vinci's workshop is a muscular young man, self-possessed, with vine leaves at his feet, holding the traditional thyrsos with his left arm. His gaze is directed towards the observer - an image of seduction. His finger points more towards the mountain than the sky, setting of the frenetic oreibasia. Could it be that Bacchus, with his staff and his hill of mania, is contrasted to Moses, whose staff is used to guide the chosen ones, and whose mountain is the seat of Law ?

Polidoro Caldara (da Caravaggio) : Psyche received into Olympus (1524)

Psyche received into Olympus - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Psyche led by Hermes (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Bacchus (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing
© Louvre.edu

In the centre of the painting, Psyche is led by Hermes with Jupiter and Juno. To the right of the painting, Bacchus is depicted as a youth crowned with ivy, standing and pouring wine from an oenochoe into a cup, withdrawn in relation to the other Olympians.

Rosso Fiorentino : The Contest of the Pierides

The contest of the Pierides - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Dionysos, Apollo and Athena (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Dionysos (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing
© Louvre.edu

This painting depicts both the confrontation of the gods who have been contrasted by Nietzsche: Apollo and Dionysos, the confrontation between two art-forms.
Rosso Fiorentino draws his inspiration from a passage of Ovid's Metamorphosis Book V : The nine Pierides, daughters of Pirus, challenged the nine Muses on Helicon to a singing competition which they lost. In the centre of the painting, Apollo, with Athena positioned to his left, commands the transformation of the Pierides into birds. To Apollo's right, there is a rear-view of the defeated Dionysos.

XVIIth century

Hendrik van Balen (about 1575-1632) : Feast of the gods

Feast of the gods  - © Louvre.edu - Photo RMN Dionysos (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo RMN
© Louvre.edu

In this Feast of the gods, Bacchus is not present at the table of the Olympians : he is seated on a sort of sculpted stone, crowned with ivy and dressed in a royal blue drape, letting a satyr pour him wine into a cup, which is offered to him by a putto with skin which is greyish against the warm colour of dionysian flesh.

Pierre Paul Rubens : The council of the gods for the alliance of France and Spain (1621-1625)

The council of the gods for the alliance of France and Spain - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Dionysos (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing
© Louvre.edu

In this council, logic hardly reigns : while Mars seems busy with Apollo and Vulcan (of course) chasing Giants from the council room, Dionysos whispers an argument in the ear of a goddess which seems to be based on persuasion if we examine the god, or rather seduction if we examine the face of the goddess.

Nicolas Poussin : The childhood of Bacchus (about 1630)

The childhood of Bacchus - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Bacchus child and a nymph (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Bacchus and satyrs (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Bacchus (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing
© Louvre.edu

Faced with this fading myth, we can appreciate the merit of Poussin's art, who skilfully illustrates the youth of Bacchus (Dionysos) in "The chilhood of Bacchus" (about 1630), in a narrativity told from the painting's right to the left : The fair child crowned with ivy, sleeping on the visionary body of a mother who is not his own, the goat-kid shielded from the inquiring anger of Hera, then the older child introduced to wine by the satyrs, under the protective gaze of a spinner (perhaps Fate who extracts him from death ?) before finding the other spinner abandoned by Theseus. This fate is told from right to left yet can also be read emotionally in the opposite direction, as if we move from an obvious image which identifies the god (the intemperate drinker) to an image which reinstates his humanity (the victim of hybris propelled to Semele by Hera : see her divine lover in danger of losing his child and life).

Nicolas Poussin : Bacchanal with woman playing a guitar - The great Bacchanal (about 1630)

Bacchanal with woman playing a guitar - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Bacchus (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Young man pouring wine (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Young man pouring wine (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing
© Louvre.edu

This second painting is surprising in its interpretation of Bacchic inebriation : the abandonment to wine echoes the abandonment of the infant fed on milk ; furthermore, a child is depicted in the foreground, at the feet of the one thought to be Bacchus, while two drinking companions seem to watch delicately over the god's slumber.
Here too, mythology is lowered to the level of mortals : five youths, three children and two women celebrate the grape harvests in an innocent scene, the inspiration behind all the "déjeuners sur l'herbe" (Picnic on the Grass).

XVIIIth century

Johan Georg Platzer (1704-1761) : Bacchus and Ariadne

Bacchus and Ariadne - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Bacchus and Ariadne (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Bacchus and Ariadne (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing Bacchanal (detail) - © Louvre.edu - Photo Erich Lessing
© Louvre.edu

The mythological argument appears in this painting "as the pretext for an exercise in skill by accumulating objects and figures, depicted with the miniaturist detail of an artist marked by the painting of the Dutch XVIIth century genre, and moreover the artist of love scenes set in contemporary Viennese society." (© Louvre.edu, text by Claire Barbillon).