Musée Saint-Raymond, musée des Antiques et de l'archéologie de Toulouse
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Bacchus


Adolescent Bacchus: marble statuette discovered on the site of the Roman villa of Chiragan (Martre-Tolosane, Haute-Garonne). Second or third century. Inv. Ra 134-137 © J.-F. Peiré
Adolescent Bacchus: marble statuette discovered on the site of the Roman villa of Chiragan (Martre-Tolosane, Haute-Garonne). Second or third century. Inv. Ra 134-137 © J.-F. Peiré
This statuette represents the young god Bacchus, Dionysus to the Greeks. Its inspiration is taken from the style of Praxiteles, a celebrated Greek sculptor from the fourth century BCE.

The long hair is pulled back over the forehead with a mitra, a strip of fabric which acted as a tiara and symbolized royalty among the sovereign oriental Greeks. The right arm is probably reaching for a bunch of grapes or a pouring jug symbolizing the wine that the god had brought from the East to the West.
The branch, against which the young man stands, suggests that this statuette belonged to a group that served as a piece of furniture, perhaps a table support. One can imagine a foot table in the gallery in Athens decorated with Bacchus accompanied by another character, Ariadne, Silenus or another satyr, with whom he is represented in many other ancient works.

The character’s entire attitude is reminiscent of Praxiteles’s art, highly esteemed and inspiring for numerous sculptors.
The softness of the musculature, the androgynous aspect of both the face and body, the reduced proportions of the pelvis, and the childlike genital place this work among the works of Hellenistic-Roman art which began to develop in the second half of the second century.
This voluptuous aspect and the resulting sexual ambiguity testify to a certain taste for effeminate and very young male figurines.
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Tolosa's gold age | Chiragan | Necropolis