Naughty Putti? Check. Drunken Satyrs? Check. An Old Master style Wedding Celebration – UPDATED with sale results
A really great wedding celebration would not be complete without naughty putti and drunken, vomiting satyrs, though wedding planning resources don’t seem to address those details (and I thought you were so thorough Martha Stewart). Fortunately, The Feast of the Gods: The Marriage of Bacchus and Ariadne provides a winning template for how to succeed at such excess. This oil on copper painting, created some 410 years ago in a joint effort by Hans Rottenhammer (who painted the figures) and Jan Brueghel the Elder (the landscape), is a delightful and beautifully executed example of Peyton Place (or Plato’s Retreat) in Arcadia. The painting is one of the works in Christie’s June 21, 2012 sale in Paris of Old Master and 19th Century Paintings (more about other works in the sale in a subsequent post). The two artists began collaborating in the 1590’s and executed several such works — including, according to the sale catalogue entry, the Diana and Acteon (c.1597) in the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (though the museum’s Web site does not credit Brueghel). This one appears to have been started by Brueghel who then sent the work to Rottenhammer for completion. Precisely dating Brueghel’s work is difficult as the date (1601?) is all but illegible — and his signature was erased. Rottenhammer signed and dated the completed work (1602, see below). For whom this was painted is also uncertain, though the use of lapis lazuli and other expensive materials argues for a prominent and wealthy patron, quite possibly even Rodolphe II.
The Feast of the Gods: The Marriage of Bacchus and Ariadne, rich in exquisitely wrought detail and narrative insanity, carries a pre-sale estimate of €600,000 – €1,000,000 ($753,612 – $1,256,019).
Rottenhammer’s time in Venice is evident from the Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese inspired females figures at left (above and detail below), especially the treatment and coloration of the hair, attire and drapery. The helmeted fellow (Mercury) appears from his rosy visage to be well into his cups.
The groom supported (barely) by revelers.
The wedding guests gorge on oysters, wine, grapes, figs and each other (detail below).
There’s always one guest/satyr who can’t hold his liquor (detail below). And, clearly, no one at this banquet is remotely concerned about underage or other species drinking — even the goat appears loaded.
Salacious? You think? At lower left below, the rosy cheeked (inebriated) satyr’s eyes and tongue make a beeline for this maiden’s breast. Above/behind them are wedding gifts? And, right side, background, the hauling and preparing of more food and wine (keeping those satyrs busy).
This signature and date – ‘Gio. Rottenhammer 1602 F. in Venetia’.