Artibus et Historiae no. 34 (XVII)

1996, ISSN 0391-9064

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TIMOTHY J. STANDRING - Poussin's «Infancy of Bacchus» Once Owned by Sir Joshua Reynolds: A New Addition to the Corpus of His Early Roman Pictures

In the collection of Sir Joshua Reynolds by 1778, Poussin's The Infancy of Bacchus and its missing pendant were still in Rome in the mid-seventeenth century, when Jean Lemaire incorporated figural components from each into the foreground of his Youthful Romulus now in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin. Not unlike the bacchanalian pictures Poussin would have painted for Cassiano dal Pozzo, The Infancy of Bacchus is perhaps stylistically closest to The Landscape with Nymphs and Satyrs (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool), The Venus and Adonis, (sections in the Musée Fabre, Montpellier and private collection, New York) and The Nurture of Bacchus (National Gallery, London), all generally dated to 1625—1627. While bacchanalian motifs and handling of these pictures point to Venetian influence - a reason, perhaps, for their popularity - their subject matter stems from antique reliefs, passages in Philostratus's Imagines, or specific late-Renaissance texts. Some of his early Roman works may also reflect Poussin's desire to convey a mood of tenderness (tenerezza), a sentiment frequently encountered in the pastoral poetry of Giambattista Marino (1569—1625).

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