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Bacchus

Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and intoxication, is depicted here as a small boy. Leaning against a wine barrel and crowned with vines, he surrenders to the enjoyment of the wine. By imagining the god as a child who is simultaneously urinating, this painting refers in a humorous way to the liberating component of excessive alcohol consumption. As the son of Zeus and Semele, he is venerated in Greece as Diónysos and is also known as the “problem solver”. In the modelling and twisted posture of the small wine god, one can recognize Reni’s reference to ancient sculpture. The motif of urinating, on the other hand, probably comes from the tradition of small putti. Acquired from Modena in 1744, the early appreciation of the painting in Dresden is evident in its inclusion in the Royal Gallery (vol. 1, 1753) by Carl Heinrich von Heineken. Circa 1622, oil on canvas, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden.

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