In Greek and Roman mythology, Silenus is the faithful friend and teacher of the wine god Dionysus. On Corot’s canvas, he is the butt of a joke, awakening from his drunken stupor to find that his fellow revelers have tied him up with his own garlands and painted his face red with mulberries. A good sport, he joins in the laughter and all is forgiven. The picture is an excellent example of “historical landscape painting,” a genre popularized by Nicholas Poussin, a French artist from the 1600s, in which mythological or Biblical scenes play out in idyllic settings.
Credit Line: Text courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (CC BY 3.0).