Back to results

Allegory of Bacchus József Marasztony


József Marasztony Venice, 1834 – Vienna, 1895

Date 1855
Object type painting
Medium, technique oil, canvas

56 × 111.5 cm

Inventory number 2715
Collection Collection of Paintings
On view Hungarian National Gallery Building C, First Floor, Art in the 19th Century – From the Age of Reforms to the Turn of the Century, U Wing

From their inception, art academies had used plaster casts of classical and contemporary sculptures as teaching aids, which students copied to practise drawing or painting. In 1845, a Venetian-born artist, Jakab (Jacopo) Marastoni (father of József Marastoni) founded the “First Hungarian Painting Academy” in Pest, and during the decade and a half of its existence (1845―1860), pupils here made studies of plaster models, just as their peers did in the academies in Vienna and Munich. Most of the plaster casts used in Marastoni’s school probably originated from the Venice Academy. Copying these objects in monochrome, using the grisaille technique, trained students in how to create a sense of mass in two dimensions. The composition known as Allegory of Bacchus was made after a bas-relief by the seventeenth-century French-Flemish sculptor, François du Quesnoy (1597―1643). The original terracotta variant of the work, entitled Silenus Sleeping beside a Stubborn Donkey, is now lost, but a number of contemporary copies are known, produced in all manner of materials (bronze, marble, red wax, plaster), so it is perfectly possible that the private academy in Pest possessed its own version. The title of the painting indicates that the original identity of the figure in the bas-relief had been forgotten, leading to his generalisation as Dionysus or Bacchus. In any event, the budding painter succeeded in copying the work with almost photographic realism, revealing a sense of materiality that far exceeds the requirements of an academic exercise. | Orsolya Hessky

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

Recommended exhibitions