Jacob de Wit excelled in the rendering of mythological and allegorical figures as exemplified in this monumental composition. The subject is a festive procession in honour of Bacchus with wine drinking putti, satyrs and bacchantes. The god himself is lying in the centre amidst his drunken revellers, while being served the juice of grapes by Ariadne.
The painting can be dated to the artist's early stage in his career and displays the influence of Rubens and Jordaens. Particularly the group of putti in the forground and the satyrs in the centre of the compostion are painted in a fleshy and bulky manner. Also typical of De Wit's earlier style is the great attention in detail in the different textures, seen in the still life elements throughout the composition. See for example, Jacob de Wit's 1718 ceiling painting Gods with signs of the zodiac in the Bijbels Museum, Amsterdam, which shows a similar, lush application of the paint.1
An interesting detail seen on the right is the elderly man supporting a violin, looking directly at the viewer. Judging from his aged features, it is unlikely to be a self-portrait since the artist must have been much younger at the time of this painting. A more plausible suggestion, however, is to consider this as a representation of the patron of this work. The same practise was noted first by Guus van Hout in the painting Christ healing the Cripple, signed and dated 1716, which shows the head of an elderly Amsterdam regent looking out at the viewer amidst this biblical scene.2 Except for one other work, De Wit lost his interest in portraiture after 1716, which reinforces a date of circa 1715-1716 for the present painting.
The large size of the canvas indicates that the work could have been part of an ensemble of interior wall paintings for a private house.
We are grateful to Mr. Guus van den Hout for the suggestion a date of circa 1715-1716.
1. See exhibition catalogue In de Wolken: Jacob de Wit als plafondschilder, pp.20-27;
2. See op.cit. Bijbels Museum, p. 48, reproduced. 4.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale