Votary of Bacchus
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Nicolas Poussin
French, Rome, about 1640
Pen and brown ink and brown wash
6 3/16 x 5 5/16 in.

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Nicolas Poussin may have made this drawing and one other to reconstruct an ancient cameo, or he might have copied a hanging ornament from ancient Rome. Roman mythology often represented Bacchus, the god of wine, as a handsome young man and a powerful god, sometimes with a lionskin or an empty drinking vessel.

In this very finished drawing, Poussin used wash in light and dark tones over pen lines to model the figure and to set it off from the background, as if it were a cameo or a relief. He commonly copied ancient objects in his drawings, using these careful records to add authentic details to his classicizing paintings.