Bacchanal with a Wine Vat

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Andrea Mantegna
Italian, 1431-1506

Bacchanal with a Wine Vat, c. 1470

Engraving on cream laid paper
312 x 450 mm
Bequest of Mrs. Potter Palmer, Jr., 1956.1011

Bartsch, illustrated 2506.006; Bartsch XIII.240.19; Hind V.13.4

Andrea Mantegna was an artist with a deep interest in antiquity, and much of his work resembled Greco-Roman sculpture, which he translated into widely circulating and frequently copied engravings. This is the left half of a pair of prints; the adjoining print Bacchanal with Silenos (1956.1010) is also in the Art Institute’s collection. Mantegna’s frieze-shaped bacchanalian subjects portray the god of wine and his drunken revelers. Dionysos may be the standing youth on the left, who is being crowned with a wreath of grape leaves. His noble bearing and contrapposto stance link him particularly to ancient sculptures.

— Exhibition label, Dionysos Unmasked: Ancient Sculpture and Early Prints, July 31, 2015–February, 15, 2016, Galleries 150 and 154.