Gift of Louis V. Keeler, Class of 1911, and Mrs. Keeler, by exchange
Recent scholarship has revealed that this painting is one of several versions of the story of Bacchu(…)
Recent scholarship has revealed that this painting is one of several versions of the story of Bacchus and Ariadne painted by the workshop of Benedetto Luti, an Italian rococo master praised equally for his soft, dreamlike compositions and his teaching prowess. Luti, like other eighteenth-century studio masters, used live models in his workshop to teach his students how to most accurately depict the human body. Luti would often circulate his figure drawings amongst his students, who would then learn from their teacher’s example through copying his compositions.
Several drawings from both Luti and his workshop depict a young male model in a variety of poses, including seated on a rock. It is possible that the inspiration for Bacchus’s pose originated from these sittings, though the present painting ultimately takes liberties with anatomical accuracies and greatly exaggerates musculature, in keeping with stylistic goals. (“Undressed: The Nude in Context, 1500-1750,” text by Brittany R. R. Rubin and presented at the Johnson Museum February 9-June 16, 2019)