AACHEN, Hans von
(b. 1552, Köln, d. 1615, Praha)

Bacchus, Ceres and Cupid

Oil on canvas, 163 x 113 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

The representation of this group is related to the frequently depicted sentence by Terence: Sine Cerere et Baccho friget Venus - Without Ceres (bread) and Bacchus (wine) Venus freezes. Aachen gives the mythological figures the facial features of his family: his own, his wife and their son. The motif could allude to the famous picture of the Greek painter Zeuxis. He painted a boy with grapes so naturally that the birds pecked at the painted fruits.

The nude figure of a woman viewed from behind, a favourite motif in Rudolfine art, is represented here in a sensually suggestive way. The elongation of the female body is characteristic of the excessively refined Mannerist art and culture prevalent at the court in Prague c. 1600 and can also be found in the work of von Aachen's contemporaries at court, Bartholomäus Spranger and Joseph Heintz the Elder.