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Abraham Bloemaert

(Dutch, 1566–1651)

Sine Baccho et Cerere Friget Venus (Without Bacchus and Ceres, Venus Freezes)

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Object Details

Artist

Abraham Bloemaert

Date

ca. 1590

Medium

Oil on panel

Dimensions

Panel (unconfirmed): 24 3/8 × 31 inches (61.9 × 78.7 cm)
Frame: 33 × 38 1/2 × 2 1/2 inches (83.8 × 97.8 × 6.4 cm)

Credit Line

Acquired through the Nancy Horton Bartels, Class of 1948, Endowment; the Ernest I. White, Class of 1893, Endowment; the Marilyn Friedland, Class of 1965, and Lawrence Friedland Endowment; and through the generosity of Susan Lynch

Object
Number

2018.035

This pairing attests to the important relationship, and important divergence, between Bloemaert’s (…)

This pairing attests to the important relationship, and important divergence, between Bloemaert’s practice of life drawing and his desire to paint in a popular artistic style. This painting dates from early in his career, when he favored the courtly style now called Mannerism, which favored crowded compositions, and distorted, weightless figures, often nude and eroticized. The painting’s subject—“without Bacchus and Ceres, Venus freezes”—comes from a verse from a play by the Roman dramatist Terence reminding us that food and wine are the dual fuel of love. Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, supports a nude Venus and waves a handful of wheat stalks, while the wine in the cup Cupid offers comes from Bacchus, leaning on a wine barrel at lower right. The refreshment has not yet roused Venus, and so Cupid’s bow lies dormant below.

The chalk drawing “Arm, leg, and hand studies” (accession number 2013.048) presents a varied grouping of life studies of legs, arms, and hands, including preparatory sketches for the arms Ceres and of Cupid. This proves that the highly stylized depictions of the human form in the painting nonetheless spring from carefully observed academic studies, in this case of a clothed female model.

(“Undressed: The Nude in Context, 1500-1750,” co-curated by Andrew C. Weislogel and Brittany R. R. Rubin and presented at the Johnson Museum February 9-June 16, 2019)

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