Bacchus and Ariadne
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Giovanni Battista Foggini
Italian, Florence, about 1690

H: 15 3/4 x W: 11 5/8 x D: 8 1/2 in.

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Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, sits in a rocky landscape with his wife, Ariadne. He holds grapes and a wine cup, while she squeezes grapes into a ewer of wine at her side. She wears the golden crown--set with red gems to look like roses--that Bacchus gave her upon their marriage.

Subjects drawn from classical antiquity--and this sculpture's frontal composition--were typical of Florentine bronzes from the early 1700s. Giovanni Battista Foggini arranged the two figures not to be seen from all sides but primarily from a single viewpoint in front. Despite the shallowness of the composition, the figures gracefully twist on their axes. Ariadne in particular assumes the form of a corkscrew, with her knees bending to her right and her shoulders swinging to the left. As was characteristic of sculpture at this time, the figures' bodies are much more expressive than their faces, which are emotionally blank.

Foggini was working for the Medici when he made this bronze sculpture; after his death, his son sold a plaster model of the group to the Ginori Porcelain Manufactory at Doccia. Porcelain copies made from that model still exist.