A very decorative ‘Grand Tour’ patinated bronze figure of a young man, representing Dionysus. By the Sommer foundry, Naples.
Italy, late 19th century
Great quality, original ‘verdi-gris’ patination.
Beautifully cast after the original at the Naples Archeological Museum, this handsome figure reflects the Ancient Greek ideal of beauty.
Dionysus is the god of wine and dance, of irrationality and chaos, representing passion, emotions and instincts. Just as his Roman conterpart Bacchus, Dionysus is associated with sensuality, please and abandon. The Ancient Greeks did not consider the two gods to be opposites or rivals – they were entwined by nature.
Coveted by the 19th century intellectuals and aesthetes, such exquisite objects were not mere decorations, but symbols of their owner’s classical values and refined taste.
The statue of Dionysus (previously misidentified as Narcissus) is a copy of the original bronze, discovered in 1862 in the Vicolo del Balcon Pensile in Pompeii, now preserved in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples.
Oscar Wilde, whose London home was filled with classical statuary, displayed one like this prominently on his mantelpiece.