In this work painted on a large copper panel, a beautiful scene of feast happens before our eyes, Bacchus in master of the place receives his guests in this cave arranged in banquet room: the servant is pressing to fill glasses of the guests, ladies adorned with jewels and dressed in beautiful dresses are courted by gallant men. The god of wine and music is represented crowned with ivy, sitting on a barrel from which a satyr is emerging. The panther, Bacchus' pet, is lying beside him. This feast, which belongs to the kind of "merry company", is indeed allegorical because the subject is none other than the allegory of five senses. Thus the sets are worthy of a play and the lighting highlights this scene where each gesture and object are studied to reveal the meanings they represent. The lady who looks at herself in a pocket mirror is a figuration of sight, the gallant couple: the woman playing the guitar personifies hearing while the man offering her a rose, here is the allegory of smell. The touch is suggested by Bacchus holding the foot of the glass and serving his faithful satyr. No doubt desired by the painter, the taste is the meaning that is put forward, the table topped with refined dishes, the wine served are the elements that appear the taste. The plate of oysters and the gigantic lobster invite us to "taste" and take part in the feast that has obviously lasted for some time, as evidenced by the cards fallen on the ground, empty oyster shells, some bones and glasses . With this festive and frivolous atmosphere, the joys of life and the celebration of the senses, our painting plunges us into the atmosphere of celebration and celebration. Rare by its unusual representation where a Greek god is in the middle of a feast with Antwerp of the seventeenth century, we are in the presence of a painting and a subject much appreciated by the Flemish high society to decorate their reception rooms as well as their private rooms. Our painting is a testimony of the life of wealthy people in the middle of the seventeenth century, their customs and hobbies, but also the artistic movement of the mid-seventeenth century where in the heart of the same painting, genres of painting mix and complement each other: the still life, the mythological scene, the allegorical scene and of course the so-called "merry company" scene.
Oil on copper, 17th century, workshop of Simon de Vos, Antwerp.
Ebonized wood frame.
Dimensions: copper: h. 51 cm, l. 71 cm. framed: h. 70 cm, l. 91 cm.
Similar versions with very similar dimensions: Christie's Amsterdam, 8/05/2012 (oil on board 53.7 x 78.4) by Simon de Vos (attributed), lot 24, Sotheby's Amsterdam, 01/12/2009, oil on board: 53.2 x 72.5 cm, lot 19 by Simon de Vos (signed).
Simon de Vos (1603-1676) Flemish painter of history, genre and portraits. Pupil of Cornelis de Vos, probably a relative, received master in the guild of Antwerp in 1620. He then enters the studio of Rubens as collaborator. Specialized in genre scenes and Caravaggesque paintings, he draws heavily from Pierre Paul Rubens and Antoine Van Dyck and after 1640 turns to biblical subjects and cabinet paintings.