Jul 23, 2007

Arion on a Sea Horse

Arion on a Sea Horse


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William Adolphe Bouguereau

(French, 1825-1905)

Oil on fabric

Framed: 87.3 x 127 x 5.4 cm (34 3/8 x 50 x 2 1/8 in.); Unframed: 71.3 x 111.8 cm (28 1/16 x 44 in.)

Bequest of Noah L. Butkin 1980.238.1


These paintings are from a series of eight works that Anatole Bartholoni commissioned the 29-year-old Bouguereau to create for his Paris home, decorated in the fashionable Pompeian-revival style. The paintings emulate ancient Roman designs. Crisp, cut-out forms are set against a gold background painted in imitation of mosaic. Arion was an ancient Greek poet who escaped death by riding away on the back of a sea creature who had been attracted by the poet's song. In the companion picture, a bacchante—a female worshipper of the wine god Bacchus—rides a panther, the god's symbolic animal. These works were shown at the 1857 Paris Salon exhibition.

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