Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A (No) caption competition

I enjoyed the caption competition over on ‘Blogging the Renaissance’, but I came to it late, when as far as I could see there was no quip left worth the quipping. (Iwill put the link down at the bottom of the post here, to try to stop the long URL colliding with the 'previous posts' panel.)

As a complete alternative, I offer this painting, by Guido Reni: ‘Bacchus and Ariadne’, and assert that no words can make it funnier than it is. Ariadne’s mute gesture and eye-rolling says it all. There she is, just been deserted by Theseus, and along has chanced Dionysus himself. But the god of delirious pleasure seems to have left his thyrsus behind.

There’s a representative gallery of Reni over on the Web Gallery of Art.

He gives me the impression of being rather constrained and insipid when doing religious painting unless the biblical subject has got a bit of sex in it. His 'Susanna and the Elders' is very good: that old lecher putting his finger to his lips as he twitches at her robe, there's a 'Joseph and Potiphar's Wife' which isn't too bad (there are many better), but his 'Salome' is too much Raphael and not enough Caravaggio. The mythological scenes are his high points - Reni does ideally beautiful beings very well.

So, was this picture once serious? Wasn’t it always sly?

No comments: