A bacchante, follower of Bacchus, the god of wine, leans forward and grins at the viewer while squeezing a bunch of grapes into a golden drinking vessel. Her posture, exposed breasts, flushed cheeks, and inviting smile allude to her drunken state. There is something disturbing, however, in the way she provocatively confronts the viewer, leaning into the spectator's space and smiling broadly. In the lower left corner an ape mimics the woman's gesture, holding a smaller bunch of grapes in his right paw. The ape may serve a moralizing purpose, condemning excessive drinking.
While visiting Rome from about 1604 to 1614, Hendrick ter Brugghen saw the famous Bacchus by Caravaggio from which this classical painting of Bacchus's female follower derives.