Oil on canvas. 55.5 x 100 cm. Framed. Signed 'LOVIS CORINTH' in black lower center. - In good, fresh condition. Small retouch in lower right area.
Galerie Caspari, Munich; Lindemann, Berlin; Crane Kalman Galleries, London; Kunstantiquariat Winterberg, Heidelberg; Galerie Thomas, Munich; U. Michael, Bremen; private collection, Southern Germany; W. Schuller Kunsthandel, Wertheim; Villa Grisebach, Berlin, auction June 7, 2002, lot 13; European private collection
Wuppertal 1999 (Von der Heydt-Museum), Lovis Corinth, Cat. No. 8, p. 27 with full-page color illus.
During his stay in Paris and his studies at the Académie Julian, famous for foreigners, Lovis Corinth learned from the Salon painters Tony Robert-Flury and Adolphe William Bouguereau in the mid-1880s how to translate important literary material into dramatically composed figure paintings. Remarkably, it was not the painting of the contemporary Impressionists that interested Corinth; rather, he was striving for official recognition from the traditional Paris Salon. In order to achieve this, the painter turned to biblical and mythological themes at the beginning of his career. During this time, Corinth developed a thematic repertoire that he would continue to explore in Munich and later in Berlin.
The "Dionysian" had a decisive influence on Corinth's painting in the 1890s. With his panorama-like depiction of delighted young Bacchantes and Maenads around the older Bacchus, this delicate painting conveys the substrate of this important group of works. Certainly, the viewer may ponder certain autobiographical references here - Corinth's own Munich period was marked by numerous carousals and alcoholic excesses - but a complex negotiation of history and the present opens up in these paintings: "The merging of art and life through re-mythicization is a special feature of Corinth's work. [...] However, we must always bear in mind his irony towards ancient myths, his distance from the Graecophilia that set the tone in Wilhelmine times. There is no doubt that his intention is not - like Rubens with his 'Drunken Silen' - to warn against excessive wine consumption and sensual debauchery with moralizing intent, but rather to cast a mocking glance at the ancient world of the gods." (exhib. Cat. Lovis Corinth and the Birth of Modernism, Musée d'Orsay. Paris/Museum der Bildenden Künste Leipzig/ Kunstforum Ostdeutsche Galerie Regensburg 2008/2009, p.99).
Lovis Corinth celebrated undisguised, unbridled ecstasy like few of his contemporaries. The painting on offer here depicts the bacchanal as a dream at the height of intoxication. The concept of hedonism was still in its infancy at the end of the 19th century, which makes Corinth's painting all the more prophetic today.