Fresco Panel Depicting Dionysos and Ariadne

Object Details


Fresco Panel Depicting Dionysos and Ariadne






Italy (Place created)


A.D. 1–79



Object Number:



94 × 93 × 6 cm (37 × 36 5/8 × 2 3/8 in.)

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Nude but for the drapery swirling around them, Bacchus and his consort Ariadne walk with arms entwined against a plain white background, as if floating. Ariadne lifts a ceremonial drinking horn called a rhyton, while Bacchus carries a kantharos (wine cup). The scene is surrounded by a double border. This square fresco panel, possibly from a ceiling, likely decorated the same room as two other thematically similar wall painting fragments that show a Silenus (see 83.AG.222.2) and a maenad (see 83.AG.222.4.2), both followers of the wine god Bacchus. The paintings may have decorated a luxurious Roman villa.

The fresco was produced by stretching bundled reeds between the laths that supported the wall, a technique known as opus craticium. A mortar of lime and sand (arriccio) was then applied, followed by a finer layer of ground marble (intonaco). The painted decoration was applied while the intonaco was still wet, bonding with it as they dried. Impressions from the reeds are visible on the back of the fresco, and near Bacchus'' left shoulder are fingernail impressions where the painter supported his hand as he worked. Numerous details, such as the wreaths worn by the gods, were applied in paint after the fresco had dried.


- 1983

Antike Kunst Palladion (Basel, Switzerland), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983.


The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 222.