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Nicolaes Moeyaert, The Triumph of Bacchus, 1624

Bacchus is the god of fertility and debauchery. Here he sits naked atop a large barrel of wine that is being pulled along by two snarling panthers. It is a joyful and rowdy procession – Bacchus’s entourage are knocking back the wine. Although it isn’t agreeing with everyone: on the right a satyr can be seen vomiting. Standing behind him is a knight in armour and an old, gout-ridden man. With this, the painter is warning of the ill effects of drink: war and sickness lie in wait.

Nicolaes Moeyaert’s history paintings are often built up very theatrically, almost as if you are looking at a play.

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