The Drinkers

This picture was painted by Velázquez when he had only just arrived at the royal court in Madrid. It shows a scene from mythology in which Bacchus, the god of wine, is crowing one of his subjects with a wreath of vine leaves, like the one he wears himself. The light falls directly onto the god, who is half naked in a posture that is reminiscent of Italian models. The red and white of his clothing brighten the composition - unlike the figure on the left, who is almost entirely cancelled out. As in all Velazquez’s mythological pictures, the gods are shown on a human level. This one simply looks like one of the handsome men at court. The contrast with the figures on the right is harsh: they are shown as old, ugly and stupefied by alcohol, and have been painted in a very realistic manner. The ochre colour in the foreground is typical of Velazquez. As if he wanted to recall the still-lives he painted in Seville, he offers us a splendid study of different objects, with the various vessels the drinkers are holding and the jugs we can see at Bacchus’s feet.

(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Catalina Serrano Romero
English translation (a) Thisbe Burns