Triumph of Silenus

Bronze relief sculpture depicting a group of figures celebrating, dancing, and parading along a rectangular frieze.

Bertoldo di Giovanni (ca. 1440–1491)
Triumph of Silenus, ca. 1469
3 1/2 × 22 3/4 in. (9 × 58 cm)
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence (206B)
Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali; photo Mauro Magliani

A procession of putti dances across this long relief. Clutching bunches of grapes and oversized diamond rings, the youths wear only ostrich-feather headdresses. At the rear, two putti are harnessed to a cart, guided by a panisk (a child with goat legs and tail). Putti on the cart play music for their companions while a man lies prostrate as he is simultaneously poked with a stick and force-fed grapes. The captive is Silenus, Greek god of wine and drunkenness. The scene is traditionally described as the "triumph" of Silenus, although "misfortune" would be a more appropriate title given the torment to which he is being subjected. The Medici symbols — ostrich feathers, diamond rings, and the falcon decorating the side of the cart — indicate that the father of Lorenzo de' Medici, Piero, may have been the patron. The thin yet heavy relief was likely embedded into an architectural object adorning a Medici home.

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