Bronze, 109 cm high
Signed and dated ADRIANVS FRIES 1626
Dated 1626 and probably De Vries’s last autograph work , this bronze Bacchant shows all the virtuosity and highly individual modelling style for which the sculptor was celebrated even during his lifetime and which reached its apogee during his final years. The vitality of the modelled surface, with a loose touch that gives the bronze an almost inescapable modernity, continues in the complex pose: the Bacchic figure strides forth energetically, slightly bent; his upper body turned a little to the side, his head down and his arms up. The dynamic poses of his figures and the radical painterly style with which he modelled his bronzes mark De Vries as an artistic innovator and a trailblazer of the Baroque.
Born in the Hague in 1556 Adriaen de Vries enjoyed his greatest successes abroad. After a career in Italy and Germany he was appointed court sculptor to Emperor Rudolf II, one of the greatest art collectors of all time, in Prague in 1601. The ‘imperial sculptor’, as De Vries came to be known, remained in Prague until his death, and also worked for important patrons in various European countries.
This bronze Bacchant was rediscovered by chance in the courtyard of Castle Sankt Martin im Innkreis (Austria) in 2010, where it had been since c. 1700. It was most probably was commissioned by Karl von Liechtenstein. The deaths of De Vries and Liechtenstein, in December 1626 and February 1627, respectively would have prevented its delivery to the Liechtenstein palace in Prague, and De Vries’s heirs would thus have been free to sell it.
The statue will be on view in the Gallery of Honour at the Rijksmuseum from July to September 2015, and thereafter in one of the galleries devoted to 17th-century art near De Vries’s relief of Bacchus and Ariadne, which the sculptor made some fifteen years earlier.
About Our Contributor
Frits Scholten is Senior Curator of Sculpture at the Rijksmuseum. He has published widely on sculpture, and organised several major sculpture exhibitions, including Adriaen de Vries, Imperial Sculptor (Amsterdam, Stockholm, Los Angeles 1998-2000). Currently he is preparing the online catalogue of the Rijksmuseum’s sculpture collection, to be published from 2016 onwards.