Saturday in the Museum with Titian

Image: Titian, The Andrians (1523-1526) Oil on Canvas.

Last night marked the first time clubs and bars (that do not serve food) in D.C. could be at full capacity.  In honor of the moment, we chose a scene of bacchanalia for our Saturday art post.  So, as modern-day revelers stumble from bed and ponder if they really want to go to brunch we remind them that they are not the first to face the morning after.

When it comes to scenes of feast, Washington is blessed with one of the greats, Bellini’s The Feast of the Gods at the National Gallery of Art, which we have highlighted before.  That painting was revised on the margins by Titian.  For today’s focus on a painting, we turn to a Titian original composition:  The Bacchanal of the Andrians from the holdings of the Prado in Madrid, which simply calls it The Andrians.

The painting is based on a description by the Greek writer Philostratus (though the entry was probably written by his grandson of the same name), of a painting in ancient Naples.  The Prado site describes Titian’s version:

“The scene is set on the island of Andros, a place so favoured by Bacchus that a stream flows with wine. Gods, men and children unite in the celebration of the effects of wine, whose consumption, in Philostratus´ words, makes men rich, dominant, generous to their friends, handsome and four cubits high. The musical score in the foreground is related to this concept: the canon Chi boyt et ne reboyt il ne seet que boyre soit (who drinks and does not drink again does not know what drinking is), is attributed to Adriaen Willaert (about 1480-1567), a Flemish musician in the service of the Ferrarese court.”

Titian did not stick to the scene as described by the ancient writer.  The Prado notes, “The artist was more interested in the general sense than in the literal transcription of the narrative and allowed himself certain liberties. The principal one was to leave out Bacchus and his followers whom we must imagine to be on the boat which is leaving.”

The painting is rich in artistic references, and we encourage you to click through to read the full entry on the Prado site.  The links from great masters that started with Bellini, continued through Titian to Rubens, who painted a copy of Titian’s work.


Finally, we make our weekly plug.  We post on art merely to get you to visit our site.  The rest of the time we are a dining guide for Washington, D.C.  There are 300+ recommended restaurants that you can sort by cuisine, neighborhood, and current operating status (dine-in and/or take-out, etc.) in either LIST or MAP format.

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