|Courtesy of www.Titian.org|
"The stream of wine which is on the island of Andros, and the Andrians who have become drunken from the river, are the subject of this painting. For by act of Dionysus the earth of the
Andrians is so charged with wine that it bursts forth and sends up for them a river." From this description in Philostratus' Imagines came the third of Titian's paintings for Alfonso
d'Este's camerino. Selecting among the details of the ancient ekphrasis, Titian re-created the image of the peculiarly blessed island and its inhabitants, "the men, crowned with ivy and
bryony . . . singing to their wives and children, some dancing on either bank, some reclining." On the hill in the right middle ground "the river [god] lies on a couch of grape-clusters,
pouring out its stream." And the Andrians have guests on this occasion: "Dionysus also sails to the revels of Andros and, his ship now moored in the harbor, he leads a mixed throng of
Satyrs and Bacchantes and all the Sileni." Deities and mortals, respectively distinguished by their nudity and clothing, mingle and share the benefits of the river.
With a grand gesture Bacchus himself pours the wine, while one of the revelers raises against the bright sky a crystal pitcher of the divine red liquid, as if for our inspection. Celebrating their unique stream, the Andrians sing "that this river alone is not disturbed by the feet of cattle or of horses, but is a draught drawn for men alone. This is what you should imagine you hear and what some of them really are singing, though their voices are thick with wine."