June 2018

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Museums and Galleries

Art Market

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J. Brown

I have a mysterious 17th century painting that is described as a Bacchanalian Scene by Nicolas Poussin, according to a 19th century sales receipt on the back. There's a reference on the back to its purchase in Paris in 1859 from the sale of Aley's collection. The only auction catalogue of 1859 is that of Allesandro Castellani, and there was a sale of a Poussin and it was a Bacchanal. No one seems to think the painting is a Poussin though. However, there are 13 missing Bacchanals by Poussin. Why couldn't this be one of them. The paint has been scientifically dated to the 17th century.
There is also a bas relief on the statue base of a Poussin drawing of
'Amor vincit Pan,' and the painting is full of Poussin elements and symbolisms. The statue in the painting of Bacchus is actually the statue of the Nile River God Osiris in the Vatican Museum. Poussin was an intellectual painter, and he is probably the only one who would have equated Bacchus and Osiris. A true Poussin expert needs to see this painting, one who has read, researched and seen all of Poussin's works. There are affinities with Poussin's last painting of Apollo and Daphne, in that the painting reflects the moment just before the major event is to take place.

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