LOO, Carle van
(b. 1705, Nice, d. 1765, Paris)

Bacchus and Ariadne

Oil on canvas laid on board, 111 x 142 cm
Private collection

It was Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos of Crete, who helped Theseus, whom she loved, to escape from the labyrinth with the aid of a ball of string, but all she had in return was to be abandoned by him on the island of Naxos. Here Bacchus came to her rescue. Classical representations show Ariadne asleep when Bacchus arrives, as described by Philostratus. But according to Ovid she was at that moment lamenting her fate, and Renaissance and later artists generally depict her awake. Bacchus took her jeweled crown and flung it into the heavens where it became a constellation. Ariadne was readily consoled by him and they were married shortly afterwards.

In Carle van Loo's representation, the transformed crown can be seen held above Ariadne's head by the accompanying putti and is an artful representation of the constellation.