Head of a Bacchante (1903) and A Bacchante (‘mountains’ and ‘clouds’ versions).

Head of a Bacchante
Image: collections.ashmolean.org.

At the Ashmolean museum, Oxford is ‘Head of a Bacchante‘, signed and dated 1903. (The painting is not currently on display, May 2018.)



Head of a Bacchante - detail

Photo: Jonathan Russell.

Although not identical, the head is the same form as that in a larger work, name unknown but for which ‘A Bacchante‘ is suitable – of which there is a ‘mountains’ version known from an image in The Sphere newspaper, 9 December 1922, and a ‘clouds’ version recently (May 2018) offered for auction in the United States (www.invaluable.com), but which did not sell. I believe the images are the same canvas with the background reworked.

Click on either of the pictures above and use left/rightarrows on keyboard to compare them.

Image (right): www.invaluable.com.

The subject of these images, a ‘Bacchante’, refers to the female followers of the Roman god Bacchus (Greek Dionysus), who would dance to an extatic frenzy, heads wreathed in the god’s sacred plant, ivy, and capable of doing great violence to their enemies.

In the 2018 exhibition of Annie’s works at Manchester Art Gallery, the ‘mountains’ version is illustrated, with a note calling it, “her, now lost, painting The Dream of Italy,” but I know of no other reference giving this name for the picture, so am remaining with my choice of A Bacchante.

Another picture, entitled Bacchante, is recorded in the gallery catalogue for 1888 as being on display at the New Gallery in 1888, ‘with a goat … Deep red and blue garmants; background of woods.’



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