Sketch for a ceiling : Bacchus and Ariadne

Jacob de Wit, 1695 - 1754

Sketch for a ceiling : Bacchus and Ariadne

Jacob de Wit 1695 - 1754


The subject of this sketch for a ceiling decoration is the marriage of Bacchus (Greek, Dionysus) and Ariadne, who look down from on high. Revelling satyrs behind them and a figure with a long trumpet celebrate their union. The marriage of Bacchus, the God of Wine, to Ariadne, daughter of the King of Crete, was a popular subject in art from Antiquity. The other figures appear to represent the Moirai (the three Fates, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos). In late versions of Greek mythology, Clotho spun out the thread of a child's destiny at birth, Lachesis apportioned its length and Atropos pitilessly cut it according to her will. Putti form decorative links between the main groups. The scene is framed by a rectangle with semi-circular extensions to the left and right. This feigned frame, intended to be executed in stucco in the final piece, is greyish-white. De Wit was the leading decorative painter in Holland in the eighteenth century. He specialised in Rococo wall and ceiling decorations, and trompe l'oeil stucco reliefs in grisaille, mainly of putti, which came to be called ‘witjes', a play on his name Wit (Dutch: white).

Object Name

Sketch for a ceiling : Bacchus and Ariadne

Creators Name

Jacob de Wit


unframed: 48.2cm x 61cm
framed: 62.3cm x 73cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint


© Manchester Art Gallery

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