The Bacchante. (c1862)-William Bouguereau

Bacchante 1862/3.

Musee des Beaux Arts Bordeaux

Bacchante lutinant une chèvre. The Bacchante (c1862/3)
William Bouguereau. Bacchante lutinant une chèvre. The Bacchante. (c1862)

In this piece by William Bouguereau a Bacchante also known as a Maenad, a priestess or female follower of Bacchus the god of wine is fending off an aggressive Yew. She is portrayed nude with firm rounded breasts, pert pink nipples, smooth skin and is of slender build with elegant rounded hips that accentuate her narrow waist and a slight paunch in her belly, as was favoured by Bouguereau in many of his mythological portrayals of women.

She is laying on the ground using her robe as a blanket to rest her upper body while her naked rounded bottom rest on grass beneath. Her Thyrsus (A giant fennel staff decorated with vines and a pine cone) is visible under her back where it appears she may have placed it deliberately perhaps to prevent it from being stolen. Her head is tilted slightly to her left and she is looking up at the yew with a calm relaxed look in her eyes, an indication that she is not that bothered by the yews determination to remove her from where she lays. She is also wearing a wreath on her head as was common for the Bacchante's. It appears that she has been rudely interrupted by a less than friendly female goat that has charged at her only to be grappled by the beard and held firmly back by the Bacchante who is preventing it from pushing her upper body to the ground.

Venus and Cupid close up facial detailIf you look closely at the face of the Bacchante you can see that it closely resembles the face of Venus who Bouguereau portrayed later in a painting title Venus and Cupid, Vénus et Cupidon which he painted eight years later in 1870 and which hangs at Museum of John Paul II Collection Porczyński Gallery.

The above account is my interpretation of the work and should in no way be taken as fact.