Bacchus  -   by Michelangelo - Bargello Palace, Florence
G. Ruggeri from ISAC Statue, Italy
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Bacchus Standing
(with fig leaf)

G. Ruggeri

Bonded Cararra Marble

 White, As Shown


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Bacchus by Michelangelo - with fig leaf

Michangelo had come to Rome from Florence slightly less than two years before he carved Bacchus, his first major work. During that time in Rome he was brought into contact with some of the greatest sculpture of ancient Greece and Rome. The influence of that art upon his own works became apparent in many years to follow. That classical influence is to be seen in the statue of Bacchus, carved at the age of twenty-two, but the tremendous individuality of his genius is also to be observed.

The formal balance, the classic beauty of the body, the goat-hooved impish satyr stealing grapes from behind and the mythological subject itself reflect the classical influence. However, it is in the sculptor's departure from the classical concept that we observe the genius of the young sculptor. Michelangelo chose to depict Bacchus as a soft plump drunken adolescent rather than the riotous traditional Greek and Roman god who encouraged revelrous drinking but was never drunk himself. In no other statue do we observe more concerning the character, the physical and mental state of the subject than in the depiction of this body. The backward drooping left shoulder, the listless tilt of the head, the utterly relaxed left arm clasping the bunch of grapes, the belly protruding above unsteady legs, the face transformed by a vacuous gaze, the parted lips, the expressionless features fixed upon the cup which is wearily supported by his right arm, all speak of a mind and body dulled by inebriation. To a classical form Michelangelo has added his own interpretation, displaying a marvelous sensitivity to the expressiveness of the human body.