A Bacchanalian Revel before a Term

Arcadian revellers drink and dance before a term - a pillar crowned with a torso and head - of an ancient god, here either Pan or Priapus, both associated with fertility, rustic dance and drunkenness.

In spite of the frantic activity of the dancing figures, some derived from Renaissance precedents, they have been carefully posed to form a structured, flowing design. In the slightly later 'Adoration of the Golden Calf 'the group of dancers appears again, reversed.

The figures in this painting have more solidity than in some of Poussin's earlier pictures of Bacchic subjects, like 'Sleeping Nymph surprised by Satyrs' painted some six years previously, and also in the Collection. The treatment of the landscape here was inspired by Poussin's knowledge of 16th-century Venetian paintings in Roman collections.

Key facts

Artist dates
1594 - 1665
Full title
A Bacchanalian Revel before a Term
Date made
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
98 x 142.8 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1826
Inventory number
Location in Gallery