Bacchus and Ariadne on the Island of Naxos
Oil on canvas
59 x 44 ¼ inches
(150 x 112.4 cm)
Private Collection, France; sale, Paris, Hotel Drouot, June 9, 1923, lot 3 as “L’Automne” by Antoine Coypel.
Sale Christie’s, New York, January 28, 2009, lot 231, as “Bacchus and Ariadne” by François Marot, unsold
Private Collection, Buenos Aires, 2009-2011
François Marot, born in 1666, first exhibited at the Salon of 1704 at the Academy in Paris. Active from the late seventeenth to the early eighteenth century, Marot was a member of a group of Parisian history painters which included Antoine Coypel, who this work was once attributed to, Charles de La Fosse, and Jean Jouvenet. It was through his contemporary, La Fosse, that Marot was especially influenced by Rubens. This is especially apparent in the present painting.
Depicting a lesser known scene from Roman mythology, the two central figures are Bacchus, the god of wine and fertility, and Ariadne, the spurned lover of the hero Theseus. The daughter of King Minos of Crete, she is known for helping Theseus to defeat the Minotaur and escape her father’s labyrinth. Deserted by Theseus on the island of Naxos on his journey back to Athens, she is rescued by the god Bacchus. He happened upon her during a hunt, falling instantly in love with her beauty. Here Ariadne and Bacchus are shown an amorous embrace as the god returns to Ariadne on the island after his campaigns in the East, alluded to by his chariot in the background. They feed each other grapes as small putti and satyrs dance around them, celebrating his triumphant return.
The attribution of the present painting to Marot was first made byDr. Clémentine Gustin Gomez.