The Bacchanalia on Andros

by Peter Paul Rubens

The Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens lived in the late 16th and early 17th century. His The Andrians is copied from Titian's painting of the same subject. In the early 17th century, Titian's paintings were in Rome, and Rubens was there too. That was probably where he saw and was inspired by them. In those days copying was a way of recording the works of the older masters and spreading knowledge of them, and also a way of learning their techniques. These are not really copies at all in our sense of the term. Instead the original is an artistic inspiration. It's a case of works of art generating other works of art.

The theme, the Bacchanalia on Andros, comes from the writings of the Greek philosopher Philostratus, a series of rhetorical exercises written in the 3rd century A.D. and translated into Italian at the beginning of the 16th. Philostratus described the island of Andros, which had been blessed by a never-ending flow of wine by the god Dionysus or, to give him his Latin name, Bacchus, from which we have the word Bacchanalia, meaning a feast in his honour.


The Bacchanalia on Andros, Peter Paul Rubens.

The Bacchanalia on Andros, Peter Paul Rubens.


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