‘Bestial rabble, futile drums’: Bacchanalian sounds in the art of Renaissance Italy’
Dr Sanna Raninen, postdoctoral research associate on the Music in the Art of Renaissance Italy project speaks to the title ‘Bestial rabble, futile drums’: Bacchanalian sounds in the art of Renaissance Italy’, hosted by the EMDG.
The artistic revival of Classical gods included many depictions of Bacchus, despite (and possibly because of) his morally ambiguous nature. The god of wine, festivity and madness featured not only in the famous works by Michelangelo, Titian and Bellini, but also in numerous prints, drawings, and decorative art. The written depictions by Ovid, Philostratus, Apollodorus, Euripides, and other Classical authors popular in the period describe a strong sonic element in the frenzied revelry surrounding the god, but unlike deities such as Apollo and Orpheus – famous for their rational and persuasive musical skills – the sounds around Bacchus are characterised by unruly disorder. My research investigates the musical iconography relating to Bacchus and the visual representation of the sound world in bacchanals, in relation to the wider tradition of Classical imagery in Italian Renaissance art.