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Alessandro Magnasco
Italian, about 1720 - 1730
Oil on canvas
46 1/2 x 58 1/2 in.

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Nymphs and satyrs participate in an ancient pagan feast celebrating Bacchus, the god of wine. Twisting, dancing, singing, and playing musical instruments, the small figures engage in unrestrained revelry at odds with the staid background of classical ruins. The dancing figures convey a sense of irrationality, as if the classical statuary had come alive to re-live the bacchanalian rituals of the past.

Alessandro Magnasco used monochromatic colors for his painting, adding blue accents to represent swirling drapery. He created figures using quick, agitated strokes of paint with daubs of white for highlights. Magnasco made this painting and its pendant, The Triumph of Venus, in Milan early in his career. His collaborator Clemente Spera probably painted the architectual ruins.