Monday, July 23, 2018

French Artists Interpreting Ariadne

Nicolas Poussin
Bacchus discovering Ariadne
ca. 1634-36
wash drawing
Royal Collection, Great Britain

"Though Nicolas Poussin was French by birth, he settled in Rome in 1624 and remained there for the rest of his life, with the exception of a short and disaffected return to Paris in 1640-41.  His paintings were mostly executed for private collectors and are replete with scholarly references; they represent the purest form of the classical style in Rome and, avidly sought after by his countrymen, were instrumental in the development of classicism in France.  But Poussin was not a natural draughtsman, and his compositions were developed in small-scale studies that mainly impress by their rigour rather than seduce with their effects.  . . .  Poussin's drawings of the mid-1630s were the freest and, to modern eyes, the most attractive of his career.  Here he used no underdrawing before attacking the paper with pen and ink, untroubled by anatomical considerations – the arm of the urn-bearer at far left is little more than a scribble.  Broad strokes of pale wash impart an overall rhythm, and a sequence of dabs of a darker wash defines the stances and gestures of the figures."

Nicolas Poussin
Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne
ca. 1627
Royal Collection, Great Britain

"Ariadne was abandoned on the Greek island of Naxos by her lover Theseus.  She is seen here riding alongside her rescuer, the god Bacchus, in his triumphal chariot.  Led by leopards and centaurs, the exotic procession also features a group of music-making Maenads, the female followers of Bacchus.  The frieze-like format of this drawing and its celebratory subject matter was inspired by the relief sculpture of antique Roman sarcophagi."

– curator's notes from the Royal Collection

Jean-Baptiste de Poilly after Pierre Mignard
Autumn - The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne
ca. 1690-1700
Teylers Museum, Haarlem

Louis Desplaces after Nicolas de Largillière
Mademoiselle Duclos as Ariadne
at the Comédie-Française in the play by Thomas Corneille
Teylers Museum, Haarlem

The text printed below this image of the great tragic actress Mademoiselle Duclos (1670-1748) as the deserted Ariadne is an ode celebrating her performance in the role, as composed by Houdar de La Motte –

Qui mieux que toi, Duclos, actrice inimitable,
De cet art connut les beautés?
Qui sut donner un art plus véritable
À des mouvements imités?

Ah! que j'aime à te voir en Amante abusée,
Le visage noyé de pleurs,
Hors l'inflexible cœur du parjure Thésée
Toucher, emporter tous les cœurs.

De tous nos mouvements es-tu donc la maîtresse
Tiens-tu notre cœur dans ta main,
Tu feins le désespoir, la haine, la tendresse,
Et je sens tout ce que tu feins.

Edme Jeaurat after Nicolas Vleughels
Autumn - Bacchus and Ariadne
etching, engraving
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Jean-Antoine Watteau after Peter Paul Rubens
Venus, Bacchus and Ariadne
before 1721
British Museum

"A copy after the twelfth panel of the Marie de Médicis cycle of paintings, Le gouvernement de la Reine, by Rubens, now in the Louvre, Paris."

– curator's notes from the British Museum

Bernard Picart
Ancient Gem with Bacchus and Ariadne
ca. 1722-23
Philadelphia Museum of Art

François Boucher
Design for a Fan with Bacchus and Ariadne
ca. 1749
National Gallery of Canada

"Sketching swiftly and vigorously, Boucher crams a wealth of detail into the confines of a fan shape: two lovers are surrounded by nymphs, putti, animals, and other figures, and are set beneath a great canopy against a backdrop of Classical architecture.  This composition was also used for a tapestry cartoon woven at Beauvais in 1749 as part of a series of the Loves of the Gods.  In this scene, the god Bacchus appears on the island of Naxos, where he finds and consoles Ariadne, grief-stricken after being abandoned there by Theseus."

– curator's notes from the National Gallery of Canada

Pierre-Jacques Cazes
The Marriage of Bacchus and Ariadne
before 1754
oil on canvas
Holburne Museum, Bath

Jean-Baptiste-Marie Pierre
Bacchus and Ariadne
oil on canvas
Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University

Louis-Simon Lempereur after Jean-Baptiste-Marie Pierre
Bacchus and Ariadne
etching, engraving
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Charles-Louis Clérisseau
Caprice with ruins and statue of Ariadne
ca. 1770
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Jean-Marie Delattre after Angelica Kauffmann
stipple engraving
Teylers Museum, Haarlem

Hugues Taraval
Bacchus and Ariadne
before 1785
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York