The chosen art piece, from Roman origin, is titled “Dionysus” and portrayed Dionysus, the god of wine, with his follower Pan. This artwork is a great example of Greek art’s influence in Roman artwork. The main elements of Greek’s naturalistic art, specifically of High Classical period, are rendered beautifully in this piece combined with distinctive elements from verism, unique to Roman art. So, the idealism of Greek art and the individualism of Roman art come together to create an art piece that is divine, mythical, and yet very human and therefore, relatable.
This piece of art depicted the interaction between Dionysus and Pan in a form of sculpture. The sculpture was created from beautiful marble in A. D. 50 – 150. The work is three dimensional and still in excellent shape. There is almost no sign of physical or visible damage on sculpture which is rare because it has been created about two thousand years ago. This durability of the piece must be credited to the sculptor for having engineering intelligence to make the sculpture stay intact for so long.
The artwork includes organic and fluid lines because each body feature of Dionysus and Pan is smooth, graceful, and very close to the natural form. The way Dionysus’ left leg is crossed over his right leg conveys that both were just standing and not moving. It is not telling a specific story; rather, it is just taking a moment out of the life of two people which are of a god and his follower in this case. The texture is smooth since it was created from marble. Dionysus’s characteristics of being the god of wine are represented in several elements in this work.
The elements include the ritual staff with pinecone head in his right hand that he is known to carry, the wreath of grapes and wines enhancing his beautiful curls, and the wine cup on his left hand. Dionysus is resting his left hand on Pan’s right shoulder. The goat skin on Pan and Dionysus and the tree trunk that both are leaning on convey that they both reside in a forest or in out in nature. Pan, the follower, has the upper body of a human and lower body and the horns of a goat.
This mythical creature is holding a stick, for hunting rabbits, in his right hand and looking up at Dionysus with great admiration. Pan’s left arm is wrapped around Dionysus’ back. Pan’s body is smaller, about two-thirds of Dionysus’ body, in comparison to Dionysus indicating Pan’s status as a follower perhaps. However, both are in perfect proportions. This work of art is a mix of naturalism and verism. The beautiful perfect skin, the appropriately proportional body and the beauty of young Dionysus are much idealized.
The god of wine doesn’t have the body structure of an athlete; however, the body features and muscles are quite in proportion and yet humanized. Dionysus’ face is very humanlike because it displays a certain sense of kindness and relaxedness. There is no sign of stress, discomfort, or detachedness on his face. Dionysus has his left leg crossed over his right leg and he is leaning on Pan on his left. Dionysus’ unique pose is a varied version of contrapposto pose which was so common in the High Classical sculptures. This pose means that the weight of the body is supported by one leg, right leg in this case.
This pose illustrates relaxed state of mind and makes the audience feel that Dionysus is at ease. He also has his left hand resting on Pan while holding the wine cup. This shows that Dionysus is trusted by Pan and Pan is also trusted by him because Pan has his right arm around Dionysus’ waist. This close distance mainly exemplifies love, faith and intimacy of a relationship. The naturalism and intimacy depicted in this art is similar to the playfulness and lightheartedness defined in Late Classical Period and specifically in the sculpture “Hermes and the Infant Dionysus”.
Dionysus in “Dionysus” is slender, softer, and graceful similar to Hermes in “Hermes and the Infant Dionysus”. This is a slight contrast to the canon of proportions in High Classical. The use of emotion makes the Gods look real and humanlike which is also a contrast to the idealized works of High Classical Greek works. Another similarity between the two sculptures is how Hermes and Dionysus are leaning on the tree trunk for support and representing the forest as background.
Overall, the work is more realistic than naturalistic which is conveyed by the verism represented in the awestruck like expression of Pan, the kindness and calmness reflecting on Dionysus and their intimacy with each other. By including Pan in this work, the sculptor makes the audience view Dionysus in awe from the eyes of Pan. It makes the audience think that Dionysus is the type of God who is kind, calm, composed, humane, and not strict or unforgiving. Therefore, the most significant part of this artwork is the genuine yet stimulating interaction between Dionysus and Pan that makes this art so real and relevant. ?