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The Triumph of Pan

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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In this chaotic woodland party, men and women dance, drink, play music and behave badly. They gather around a statue of a red-faced satyr with horns, which may represent Pan, god of shepherds and herdsmen, or Priapus, god of gardens. Both deities are linked to the mischievous god of wine, Bacchus. Bacchanalian festivals were held in ancient Roman times to ensure a good harvest, and according to literary descriptions they involved lots of sex and alcohol. The goat, faun and the flower garlands we see here were part of the festivities. These naughty partygoers look like actors on a stage: the musical instruments and masks in the foreground relate to these festivals' dramatic plays. The muscular figures and their flowing drapery convey Poussin’s interest in classical sculpture.

The National Gallery, London

London

Title

The Triumph of Pan

Date

1636

Medium

Oil on canvas

Measurements

H 135.9 x W 146 cm

Accession number

NG6477

Acquisition method

Bought with contributions from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and The Art Fund, 1982

Work type

Painting

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The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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