30 November 2011

Bacchus In Autumn
























What a melancholy sight Bacchus and and his four little satyrs make on a cold November day.  You can see ice crystals on the grapes so it must be early morning.  Imagine the temperature of the lead underneath the gilded plomb dore.  Until March, when the women will gather in secret to celebrate the rituals of wine and  liberation, the party's over.
The Marsy brothers, Balthazar (c. 1624-1681) and Gaspard (1628-1674) were sculptors employed by King Louis XIV.  They created the Fountain of Bacchus for the King's gardens at Versailles, along with the Fountain of Latone, mother of Apollo and Artemis, and the Fountain of Enceladus, the grand trumpeter.  If Bacchus was a god of excess, Louis XIV was his fervent acolyte.  Fully a third of the cost of the renovations to Versailles was spent on the waterworks to supply its 50 fountains.  Thanks to Louis XIV,  water is a problem at Versailles to this day.

For furthers reading: Thomas Hedin, The Sculpture of Gaspard and Balthazard Marsy, Columbia (University of Missouri Press) 1983.
Image: Jean-Baptiste Leroux - Le bassin de Bacchus en automne -Chateau de Versailles, Collection Jean-Baptiste Leroux, Paris.

8 comments:

Hannah Stoneham said...

What a wonderful picture that is - it makes me feel cold just looking at it. I had no idea that the fountains at Versailles caused water problems in the area.

thanks for sharing

Hannah

Andy McEwan said...

Ah, Jane, water may have been a problem at Versailles, but I doubt if, under Louis, wine ever was. Bacchus would doubtless have approved.

Jane said...

Hannah, much has been written about the problem of water at Versailles and it makes interesting reading. To keep the King's fountains flowing robbed the local water table. Nowadays, I believe the fountains are turned on for one Sunday each month.

Jane said...

Andy, so true. It is for gods to approve of kings - and not vice versa. Even the Sun King's dazzling fountains couldn't appease Fontus, the god of springs and wells.

Kristin H said...

Looks astonishing with the reflection. Hope I will see it in person one day!

Jane said...

Kristin, it's difficult to decide which way is better: to see the fountains turned on for the effet d'eau or in repose when the sculptures are easier to see.

Tamborim Zim said...

Marvelous photo and sculpture!

Jane said...

Glad you like it, too.