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Bacchus

Uffizi, Florence

Bacchus

The painting is part of the early series of half-figures painted "in clear" which includes works such as the "Fruitman" from the Galleria Borghese in Rome, the "Boy bitten by a green lizard" from the Longhi Foundation in Florence, the "Basket of fruit" from the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana of Milan. Caravaggio, protagonist in Rome in the first decade of the seventeenth century of a revolution in painting that invaded the whole of Europe, displays in this work a masterly naturalistic rendering of the plant world. The rendering of the fruit basket and the cup of wine offered by God is surprising, passages understood by some scholars as a Horatian invitation to frugal living, conviviality and friendship. The sculptural figure of Bacchus, with his expression dazed by wine, is exemplified on models of classical art, in particular in portraits of Antinous, and appears imbued with a languid sensuality. Mina Gregori read in it a particular vision of antiquity praising the freedom of the senses and a reference to the initiatory rites and Bacchic disguises that were practiced in Rome. Found in the Uffizi deposits in 1913 and attributed to Caravaggio by Roberto Longhi, the work refers to the painter's still youthful activity, when, in Rome, he found himself under the protection of Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte. This painting, together with the Medusa (inv. 1890 n. 1351), was donated by Cardinal del Monte to Ferdinando I de' Medici on the occasion of the celebration of the wedding of his son Cosimo II in 1608.

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