Landscape with Bacchus and Ceres

WAG 1313


This painting depicts figures from Roman mythology. Bacchus, god of wine, can be identified on the left, clad in vines and collecting grapes. The figure on the right is Ceres, goddess of wheat and fertility. She wears a cornflower wreath and holds a basket of bread. The nymph and goat-legged satyrs often appear in mythological landscapes such as this one. X-rays show that several different compositions were painted on the canvas before this one. The heads of three women from a previous image are still visible on the right, emerging from the landscape. This painting is from Poussin’s early career, when he frequently reused canvases as a young and poor artist. This is one of the artworks presented by the Liverpool Royal Institution. Liverpool’s economic development grew directly from Britain’s involvement with transatlantic slavery: the kidnapping, enslavement and forced migration of people from West Africa to the Americas and many to the Caribbean. Many members of the Royal Institution made their fortunes directly through the trade or indirectly through the wider economy. This wealth was largely how they were able to bring rare art and treasures, such as this, to the city.