In 1694 Massimiliano Soldani Benzi made a wax model of a bacchanal for Prince Johann Adam Andreas I von Liechtenstein, who wished to have “qualche scherzo bacchanale”. Even though this was smashed “into a thousand pieces” while being taken to Vienna, Johann Adam still ordered the relief as a bronze casting in 1695. Bacchus, the god of wine and vegetation, married Ariadne on Naxos. Soldani Benzi shows the two as a loving couple, giving themselves up to the enjoyment of wine amidst their noisy retinue: Silenus, who had been entrusted with Bacchus’s education, has drunkenly fallen off his ass among the crowd of scrapping putti. Maenads dance around the statue of Priapus, the god of nature. The whole scene is enriched with symbols of love such as kissing snakes, billing doves etc. Soldani Benzi himself counted this relief as one of his best works, and indeed the complex composition offers a creative reworking of many ideas from Antique and contemporary sculpture. The denseness of the design achieves almost painterly qualities, and these are shown to particular advantage by Soldani Benzi’s sophisticated chasing techniques. The different nuances in the surface structures display considerable virtuosity, resulting in a complex play of light. Soldani Benzi’s characteristically translucent, reddish-gold patina makes for the perfect finish.
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Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi
Bacchanalia, 1695/1697
Bronze with red-gold lacquer patina
height 56 cm, width 78 cm
Inv.-No. SK827
Provenance: 1697 commissioned by Prince Johann Adam Andreas I von Liechtenstein
Further works on display
Dancing Faun, 1695/1697
Medici Venus, c. 1699/1702
Bust of Anima Dannata, 1705/1707
Diana and Callisto, c. 1695/1700
The Judgement of Paris, 1695/1700
Bust of Cicero, 1695
Bust of Agrippa, 1695
Bust of Faustina the Elder, 1695
Bust of Vitellius, 1695
Bust of Augustus, 1695
Bust of Faustina the Younger, 1695
Bust of Hadrian, 1695
Bust of Seneca, 1695
Child Bacchante, Clipping Cupid’s Wings, 1695
Time reveals the Truth, 1695/1697
Peace embraces Justice, 1694
The Triumph of Virtue over Vice, c. 1701/1706
Christ on the Mount of Olives, c. 1722
Bust of Marcus Aurelius as a Boy, 1707/1712
Bacchus, 1699/1701
Bust of the Anima Beata, 1705/1707
Deposition, 1710/25
Venus plucking the wings of Cupid, c. 1718/1719
Related themes
Bronzes from the Collections of the Prince von und zu Liechtenstein
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