Triumph of Bacchus Arriving on Naxos
Young Bacchus (Dionysus), the god of wine, rides a cheetah-drawn chariot surrounded by satyrs and maenads as he
arrives in Naxos, where he will rescue his bride-to-be, the abandoned Ariadne. The subject fits a set of five mythological
scenes celebrating wine and love, commissioned by Duke Alfonso d’Este to decorate a camerino in his castle in Ferrara.
Giovanni Bellini’s Feast of the Gods was completed first, by 1514, followed by three of Titian’s greatest secular works: the Worship of Venus, Bacchanal of the Andrians, and Bacchus and Ariadne. The group was completed by the local court artist, Dosso Dossi, with a scene described by the Renaissance historian Giorgio Vasari as “a Bacchanal rout of men which was so good, that, even if he had never done any other thing, for that alone [Dosso] would deserve praise and the name of an excellent painter”.
The Duke’s camerino is destroyed and Dosso’s Bacchanal unidentified – at least until 2000, when this painting, acquired by Sir Ratan shortly after it was sold in 1917 as “Dosso Dossi (School of)”, was put forward as the long-lost picture. It almost certainly is by the same hand as an altarpiece from the church of Santa Maria in Vado in Ferrara, which belongs to a group of paintings claimed to be Dosso’s early work. Most scholars, however, reject the claim on stylistic grounds. Moreover, to accept them would mean that the Tata painting, despite its apparently derivative correspondences with Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne, pre-dates that masterpiece by nearly a decade. Thus it seems unlikely that this could be Dosso’s painting from the camerino.
Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection
Attributed to Dosso Dossi (c. 1486– 1541/42)
Oil on canvas
16th century CE
136 x 168.5 cm