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FRENCH SCHOOL. ......oooo N. POUSSIN. ..................**** BRITISH MUSEUM.


The festivals held in honour of Bacchus were, it is said, introduced at Rome by a Greek of an obscure birth, and of very corrupt morals. At first, women only were admitted to celebrate the mysteries of Bacchus. By degrees they admitted men, and the festivals were held in a wood consecrated to the goddess Simula, whom several authors have thought to be Semele, Bacchus' mother. In the year of Rome 548, the senate, wishing to repress the licentiousness that reigned in the Bacchanalia, forbid their celebration. But this law soon became obsolete, and the Bacchanalia were celebrated under the Emperors, with, perhaps, more licentiousness, than they had formerly been in Greece.

Poussin's picture offers nothing indecent; but, repeated marks of drunkenness and gaiety are displayed in it. Composed with elegance, the spirit and taste of the antique, which the artist had so carefully studied, are seen in it. It was executed for the cardinal de Richelieu. Subsequently carried to England, it belonged to John Julius Angerstein, and now forms part of the British National Gallery.

Height, 4 feet 8 inches; width, 3 feet 11 inches.

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