NICOLAS CHAPERON

(Chateaudun 1612-1655 Lyon)

 

Bacchanal

 

Oil on canvas

52 ½ x 56 ⅞ inches

(133.5 x 144.5 cm)

 

 

Provenance

Private Collection

 

This grand painting is both a celebration of the joys of drink and a witty warning against over-indulgence.  In a wooded Arcadian landscape we witness the aftermath of revelry.  The drunken figure of Silenus is being gently lifted by three satyrs, while two baby fauns play with grapes and drink up the excess wine from a bowl more suited to milk.  Two nymphs look down on the scene with joyful amusement.

 

A pupil of Simon Vouet, Chaperon was both a highly skilled painter and an engraver. In his early training, he was charged with engraving many mythological works by Vouet, Poussin and Dorigny, These subjects were taken mostly from Ovid and Catullus, in particular the childhood and life of Bacchus, the god of wine. The present painting is an evolution of the themes espoused by his teachers.

 

Chaperon produced many works on Bacchic themes and the assortment of satyrs, nymphs, cherubs and revelry that accompany the god and his festivals. In the present work, the central figures, with the gently articulated musculature of the males and the mischievous beauty of the females, are typical of Chaperon’s playful subjects, as are the decidedly underage drinkers at the lower right.