Average: 5 (3 votes)

More about Bacchus

  • All
  • Info
  • Shop
cschuster's picture

Sr. Contributor

The name's Bacchus. Drunk Bacchus.

The painting was commissioned by Cardinal del Monte as a gift to Ferdinando I, Grand Duke of Tuscany and a leaf on the Medici family tree. Del Monte was an early belieber in Caravaggio's talents, providing constant commissions to the artist throughout his early years in Rome. Fun fact: Many of Caravaggio's paintings for the cardinal had a big emphasis on the scantily-clad boy motif. The cardinal, it may not surprise, had an interest in the male form. Supposedly, some of his parties would feature young men dressed as women frolicking about as entertainment. That come-hither look in Bacchus' eye has the subtlety of Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball. The wanton twinkle in Bacchus' gaze wasn't lost on the 17th century crowd, either. The painting hung around the Medici's Florentine palace for only a couple years before Ferdinando's daughter-in-law, Maddalena d'Austria, had it wrapped up in thrown in storage.

Bacchus himself was based off of one of Caravaggio's besties: Mario Minniti. You can see Mario featured throughout some of Caravaggio's early hits. Mario was an aspiring artist in his own right. Success came only when Mario moved away from the big city to the more provincial environs of Sicily. He and Caravaggio remained ride-or-die pen pals, though, reuniting later in life after Caravaggio straight-up murdered a rival on the mainland. While Caravaggio was famous, his fame held no get-out-of-jail free cards. Mario help Caravaggio appeal to the highest powers in the land for a pardon while offering his old master-cum-murderer a chill place to let the heat die down.

Caravaggio, per usual, packed this painting full of Easter eggs that we're still finding today. A cleaning in the 20th century revealed a self-portrait by Caravaggio hidden in a reflection on the wine jug. You can get a close-up look at detail, Minniti's dirty fingernails, and everything else if you track down the super-high-resolution copy of the painting produced by none other than HAL9000. The company is responsible for ultra-high-res images of paintings like da Vinci's The Last Supper with 3000-times greater clarity than whatever "high-quality" dumpster camera you're using. 

Featured Content

Here is what Wikipedia says about Bacchus (Caravaggio)

Bacchus (c. 1596) is an oil painting by Italian Baroque master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610) commissioned by Cardinal Del Monte. The painting shows a youthful Bacchus reclining in classical fashion with grapes and vine leaves in his hair, fingering the drawstring of his loosely draped robe. On a stone table in front of him is a bowl of fruit and a large carafe of red wine. He holds out a shallow goblet of the same wine, inviting the viewer to join him. The painting is currently held in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Bacchus (Caravaggio).

Comments (1)


Caravaggio's early paintings like this one are awesome, but he really only hit his stride until after he castrated/murdered Ranuncio Tomassoni in 1606 and spent years on the run. There seems to have been a direct correlation between the degree to which he screwed up his life, and the quality of his work. The worse things got for him personally, the more sublime his paintings became.