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Self-portrait as Bacchus (known as “Sick Bacchus”)


Merisi Michelangelo called Caravaggio
(Milan 1571 - Porto Ercole 1610)








oil on canvas, cm 67x53


ConfiscationCavalier D'Arpino's studio (1607)

Like the Boy with a Basket of Fruit, the painting was one of a number of works seized from the workshop of the Cavalier d’Arpino on behalf of Paul V (Camillo Borghese) in 1607.
Caravaggio, who had not long since left the hospital of the Consolazione where he had been admitted after being kicked by a horse, portrayed himself, with bruised lips and a pallid complexion, in the guise of Bacchus. He is sitting half naked, beardless and with his left knee bent and raised, behind a parapet on which there is a bunch of black grapes and two peaches. He is wearing a crown of ivy and holding a bunch of green grapes in his hand. The painting has been interpreted in various ways by scholars, who have seen in it an exaltation of divine love; the evergreen ivy encircling the face of Bacchus, a symbol of immortality, would also appear to allude to this.