Bacchus and Ariadne

Angelica Kauffman RA (Chur 1741 – Rome 1807)
National Trust Inventory Number 608953

Category Art / Oil paintings
Date 1794 (signed and dated)
Materials Oil on canvas
Measurements 2464 x 1651 mm (97 x 65 in)
Place of origin Rome
Collection Attingham Park, Shropshire (Accredited Museum)
On show at Attingham Park, Shropshire, Midlands, National Trust

This picture, and its companion piece, ‘Euphrosyne Complaining to Venus’, represent the theme of love lost and found, as well as the painful pleasure that love can inflict. This depicts the moment that Bacchus, the god of wine, finds Ariadne, who has been abandoned by her lover, Theseus on the island of Naxos. Bacchus is shown being led to her by Cupid, wearing his traditional leopard skin. Ariadne is easily consoled by Bacchus and they later marry.

The picture was commissioned by Thomas Noel Hill, 2nd Lord Berwick (1770 – 1832), whilst he was in Rome. The subject may have been chosen by his travelling companion, Dr Edward Clarke. It was taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, whereas the theme of the companion picture was taken from a contemporary poem by Metastasio (1698 – 1782), so the pictures were also a pictorial representation of the debate on the comparative merits of classical and modern verse.

Summary description

Oil painting on canvas, Bacchus and Ariadne by Angelica Kauffman RA (Chur 1741 – Rome 1807), signed and dated: Angelica Kauffman Pinx: Romae 1794. Bacchus, the god of wine, led by Cupid, who draws curtain aside, to reveal Adriadne asleep at the right. Bacchus first encountered Ariadne, the daughter of the King Minos of Crete, on the island of Naxos after she had been abandoned by Theseus. An earlier version of the subject, dated 1764 and among first classical pictures by Kauffman is in the Landesmuseum, Bregenz. Companion to 'Euphrosyne complaining to Venus of the Wound caused by Cupid’s Dart' by Angelica Kauffman.


Commissioned from the artist by Thomas Noel, 2nd Lord Berwick; thence by descent; [1847 Catalogue of Paintings, p.17; 1861 Inventory p.223; 1827 sale catalogue, lot 53, p.93]; bequeathed to the National Trust with the estate, house and contents of Attingham by Thomas Henry Noel-Hill, 8th Baron Berwick (1877-1947) on 15th May 1953.

Credit line

Attingham Park, The Berwick Collection (National Trust)

Marks and inscriptions

Angelica Kauffmann Pinx Romae 1793 (signed and dated on bottom of plinth)

Makers and roles

Angelica Kauffman RA (Chur 1741 – Rome 1807), artist

Related items

Place of origin Rome (493)
Materials Oil paint (8600)
Canvas (10117)
Giltwood (3926)
Category Art / Oil paintings (12642)
Collection Attingham Park, Shropshire (Accredited Museum) (9713)
Periods 18th century (87902)
Maker Angelica Kauffman RA (Chur 1741 – Rome 1807) (150)
Subjects Myth and Allegory (458)
Bacchus (Dionysus) (54)
Ariadne (13)
Object Type Oil painting (14440)

Record Status


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