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Bacchus and Ariadne

Gerard de Lairesse, Dutch (active Liège, Amsterdam, and The Hague), 1641 - 1711

Made in Netherlands, Europe

17th century

Oil on canvas

26 1/4 × 20 inches (66.7 × 50.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 397, European Art 1500-1850, third floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Edgar P. Richardson, 1986

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This is a reduced version of a larger canvas, now in the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, that Lairesse painted about 1678–82 for the Soestdijk palace of the Dutch stadtholder Willem III (later King William III of England). In the story recounted by the Roman poet Ovid, Bacchus rescued Ariadne from the island of Naxos, where she had been abandoned by Theseus. Here Bacchus tosses her jeweled diadem to the heavens, where it transformed into the constellation Corona Borealis.


Possibly Dr. Johan Pieter Wierman [1]; possibly sale, Wierman, Amsterdam, August 18, 1762, no. 5 [2]. Countess van Lynden, who lent it to the Mauritshuis, The Hague, 1901-3 [3]. With A. Nijstad & Zn, Lochem, Netherlands, by 1946 [4]; sold to Mr. and Mrs. Edgar P. Richardson, Philadelphia, July 23, 1955 [5]; Constance (Mrs. Edgar P.) Richardson; gift to PMA, 1986. 1. Full name from Art Sales Catalogues Online, IDC Publishers. 2. Alain Roy's catalogue raisonné (Gérard de Lairesse (1640-1711), Paris, 1992, no. P.127), cites two auctions of 1762 and 1920; however, the painting in the 1762 Wierman sale is listed as measuring 20 in. (high) x 23 in. (wide), and is described as depicting five figures, whereas this painting has eight. The description of the painting in the Melzi d'Eril de Lodi sale of 1920 also does not match. 3. Per Nijstad receipt. 4. Roy, as in note 2. 5. Copy of dated receipt from Nijstad in curatorial file.

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