One of the finest and most beautiful depictions of Bacchus, by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), master of Chiaroscuro. The painting was commissioned by Cardinal del Monte and hangs today in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

This painting has a quality of plenitude: it arouses our senses by its beauty, the mouth-watering effect of the fruit overflowing in the basket and the wine, full to the rim in the fine wine glass and plenty left in the carafe for us to drink. A serene and very young Bacchus is accompanied here by symbols of pleasure and fertility: a wreath of vine leaves on his head reminds us of the past harvest; figs and grapes, the most sought-after and luscious summer fruit; autumnal quince, pears and apples; and the pomegranate: the fruit associated with “plenty” and with good luck in the Mediterranean, where people thrust them open in the eve of the New Year to bring fortuna into their lives.

PS. If you get the chance to visit one of the churches where Caravaggios’ paintings still hang, don’t hesitate to enter: you will stand in awe by the devoutness they inspire.