L'enfance de Bacchus


Tempera on canvas

305 × 445 x 4.5 cm (120 1/16 × 175 3/16 in.)

Ten children go about a variety of activities: chatting, fighting, staring out into emptiness or chasing a rat. Painted in a subtle palette of greens, yellows and greys, this dissipated group stands on a stone stage in front of a black background. Raysse's skilfully composed painting breathes life into an odd scene that resonates with its title, Bacchus being the Roman god of theatre.

L'Enfance de Bacchus (“The Childhood of Bacchus”) belongs to a group of large friezes Raysse started in the early 1990s. Here he shows his deep attachment to art history, for Bacchus' childhood is a key theme in Renaissance art and Nicolas Poussin’s paintings. By treating it with his unique style, Raysse forges a filiation with his colleagues of the past while making his own mark.

This painting was shown for the first time by the Pinault Collection during the 2009 exhibition "Mapping the Studio" at the Palazzo Grassi.