men_in_full: (more devos)



Detail from Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne, c. 1675, Giovanni Battista Gaulli (1639–1709)


Two more, SFW )

men_in_full: (rubens bacchus)


“Bacchus,” by Jan van Dalen (c. 1620-c. 1653, Flemish) 1648 (link)
(click to enlarge)

Two more, both SFW )

men_in_full: (Default)
Dionysus/Bacchus (the god of wine, revelry, and abundance) was usually shown in classical Greek art as a "pretty" or effeminate youth, or with a beard and wearing women's clothing, and with a slender or only slightly-rounded body. The late Renaissance and Baroque painters, though, liked to sometimes paint or sculpt him as fat. A few people have remarked to me that it may be that the later painters merged Bacchus with his old, fat, drunken companion (and former teacher) Silenus.

Dionysus of old Greece has his terrifying side; Euripedes' The Bacchae ends in blood and weeping when the god gives arrogant young Pentheus exactly what he asks for. But you feel as if you could curl up under the generous arm of a Baroque Bacchus and join in the fun.





"Drunken Bacchus with Faun and Satyr," by Peter Paul Rubens






"Head of Bacchus," Cornelis van Haarlem (Netherlands, 1562-1638)
(hat tip to [livejournal.com profile] mercurior for this one.)






"Bacchus," 1730, by Henri Millot (French, d. 1756)
I'm not sure whether this is Baroque or Rococo; I would say it's on the borderline between the two.



More past posts on Bacchus here. (scroll down)


men_in_full: (de vos bacchus pinch)
[livejournal.com profile] jennie_jay in the comment thread directly below mentioned the "restrained Bacchus" of Disney's Fantasia:
Disney's "Fantasia" contains a (restrained) Bacchanal, with a rather stereotyped Bacchus. The original sketches were much better than the final result we see in the film. I've got a book about the making of "Fantasia", will try to scan some of the illustrations.... and the "centaurettes" have nipples in the original rough-outs, too! A far cry from the saccharine final look.

She sent some sketches and pastel storyboards, which show a freer, more abandoned Bacchus (especially in the last image, where he forms the centerpiece for a swirling mass of centaur dancers.




Click for concept/character sketch details.

More below the cut... )
men_in_full: (Default)

Fat men often find their way into modern "Bacchic" renditions. Click the thumbnail for the full image.

I don't know the title or artist for this photograph on the right. If anyone does, please let me know, so I can give credit. The subject seems pretty "bacchic," and not just because of the grapes. Yes, it's his distinctively heavy body, but also the wicked and "satyric" expression which he fixes upon the viewer. This image has just the sort of earthiness for a "bacchic" one.

More, and image-heavy... )







men_in_full: (Default)
The god of wine, revelry, and fertility known as Dionysus (Bacchus) wasn't usually described as fat in classical sources. Instead, he was often shown as a beautiful but effeminate man of unremarkable build, with long, flowing hair. Fat Bacchus was seen more in Renaissance and Baroque interpretations, although not as often as the predominant classical-bodied figure.

Some interesting variations, image-heavy )
men_in_full: (Default)
The Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) left us with the term "rubenesque" to refer to the large figure. It's almost always applied to women, though, as his paintings of women are more familiar. However, as [livejournal.com profile] jennie_jay points out in the comments from a few days ago, Rubens did paint larger men as well.

One striking example is his "Bacchus," below. (Click for larger view.)



Rubens paints this fat male figure with a somewhat dozy face, slight edema of the lower legs, dimples, and cellulite. You can almost see his upper arms shake. But Ruben's Bacchus, as impressive as he is, doesn't project the same hand-over-flesh sensuousness as my Flemish favorite, Cornelius De Vos's Triumph of Bacchus.

First, there's Ruben's Bacchus's rather staged pose. He looks blankly off into the distance. The other figures seem preoccupied with either drinking it in or peeing it out, as the case may be. They look away from the viewer; one satyr even has his back turned. No one seems particularly happy, except maybe the urinating child. Bacchus's rich body dominates the visual field, but the action pulls us away from him, and while the colors are warm, the emotional tone is cool, distant, maybe even a little bored.

It may be that Rubens was trying to make a moralistic point ("Drink enough and this is what you look like," perhaps?)

Personally, I happen to like De Vos's Bacchus better, even if he isn't as artfully painted. He appeals more because he's engaged with those around him. He embraces the girl and is in turn caressed by her. The satyr on the right has helped himself to a handful of love handle, and we wonder what the other hand is doing. The little one chomps on the grapes Bacchus holds. While De Vos's god's eyes drift as they do in Rubens' painting, he langourously submits to the attention, and we who watch can feel him feel it. It's hard for a visual image to convey the sense of touch, yet De Vos does. Also, the two figures on either side of Bacchus look directly at us. They draw us in, offer to share. There's enough to go around, they seem to say.

Silenus

Mar. 31st, 2007 09:54 pm
men_in_full: (Default)
According to Camille Paglia in Sexual Personae, the Greeks adopted the long, sleek lines of the ideal Egyptian form and made it their own. Thus the gods became "beautiful" in the modern, Western sense - economical of form, lightly muscled, well-defined.

But because Greek religion was an amalgam of older folk beliefs mixed with the more recent Olympian pantheon, they never quite lost the more "prehistoric" gods. The older gods and goddesses, instead of being children of Zeus, were children of the Earth herself. Such a one was Seilenos (in the Latin, Silenus): "Shaggyhaired Seilenos, who himself sprang up out of mother Gaia (Earth) unbegotten and self-delivered." (Nonnus, Dionysiaca 29.243)

Silenus )
men_in_full: (Default)


I love Cornelius De Vos's (d. 1651) "Triumph of Bacchus." It gives me a sensuous pleasure I've never really gotten from any other picture. The Flemish painters (like de Vos and his contemporary Rubens) appreciate flesh in a way not seen since the Paleolithic, and they don't skimp on it.

Dionysus (Bacchus) is most often thought of as the god of wine, but his domain includes fertility and abundance as well. He's shown in wildly different ways over the millenia, ranging from a bearded, long-haired man sometimes in women's dress, to a slender young man beautiful of face. Most images contain at least a touch of androgyny.

De Vos shows Bacchus's sexual blurring and plenitude by painting him as fat. Instead of a woman's robe, his body, while strong and solid, is clad in soft flesh like a garment, with almost-feminine breasts.

This Bacchus is hard to resist, placed as he is in the center of the painting. Every figure is in some relation to him except the drowsing Silenus, who still owes his sleep to the wine of the god.

De Vos's Bacchus appeals because he's engaged with those around him. He embraces the girl and is in turn caressed by her under his arm, that sanctuary of tender warmth. The little satyr chomps on the grapes Bacchus holds. The god's eyes may drift but he languorously submits to the attention, and we who watch can feel him experience it.

It's hard for a visual image to convey the sense of touch, yet De Vos does. Hands don't just rest on flesh, they actively pursue it. The satyr on the right has helped himself to a handful of the god's great fleshy side, and we wonder where the other hand is and what it is doing.

Also, the two figures on either side of Bacchus look directly at us. They draw us in, offer to share. There's enough to go around, they seem to say. Rather than just watching a tableau, we're invited to take part in a mystery.

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