This expertly carved wooden panel shows the head of Bacchus flanked by garlands of fruits and wings-spread eagles, similar to the birds on the Gonzaga family coat of arms. The exaggerated frown and expression of Bacchus, as well as his wavy moustache, suggest those of the 'Giants' in the Palazzo's famous Sala dei Giganti. Its background has been hatched throughout, emphasizing the full round forms of the various elements and the gilding. It was originally part of a larger decorative scheme, maybe in a cornice at the top of a wall or a fireplace hood. The key-hole at the top of Bacchus' head has very likely been added at a later date, when the relief could have been reemployed as the front part of a cassone.
D.S. Chambers and J. Martineau (eds.), Splendours of the Gonzaga, exh. cat., Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1982, cat. 167, ill. p. 85.
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