William-Adolphe Bouguereau: The Youth of Bacchus (1884)

Oil on canvas – Private collection

French artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau painted in the academic style prevalent in the late 19th century.   He specialized in painting female nudes as present in The Youth of Bacchus.  The painting shows Bacchus (Greek Dionysus), the Roman God of wine, music, and dance, in a celebratory scene.  It captures Bacchus’s ability to free people from the restraints imposed by social norms and powerful institutions; much like the effect from the spirit of Saturnalia.  This painting may reflect how Ancient Romans observed Saturnalia.


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