Fresco of Dionysos and Ariadne, Getty Villa

Server Costs Fundraiser 2023

Help our mission to provide free history education to the world! Please donate to our server cost fundraiser 2023, so that we can produce more history articles, videos and translations. With your support millions of people learn about history entirely for free, every month.
$10731 / $21000


Jan van der Crabben
by The J. Paul Getty Museum
published on 10 May 2019

Fresco Panel Depicting Dionysos and Ariadne, between 1 and 79 CE.

Nude but for the drapery swirling around them, Bacchus and his consort Ariadne walk with arms entwined against a plain white background, as if floating. Ariadne lifts a ceremonial drinking horn called a rhyton, while Bacchus carries a kantharos (wine cup). The scene is surrounded by a double border. This square fresco panel, possibly from a ceiling, likely decorated the same room as two other thematically similar wall painting fragments that show a Silenus (see 83.AG.222.2) and a maenad (see 83.AG.222.4.2), both followers of the wine god Bacchus. The paintings may have decorated a luxurious Roman villa.

The fresco was produced by stretching bundled reeds between the laths that supported the wall, a technique known as opus craticium. A mortar of lime and sand (arriccio) was then applied, followed by a finer layer of ground marble (intonaco). The painted decoration was applied while the intonaco was still wet, bonding with it as they dried. Impressions from the reeds are visible on the back of the fresco, and near Bacchus'' left shoulder are fingernail impressions where the painter supported his hand as he worked. Numerous details, such as the wreaths worn by the gods, were applied in paint after the fresco had dried.

Currently on display at the Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA.

Remove Ads


Cite This Work

APA Style

Museum, T. J. P. G. (2019, May 10). Fresco of Dionysos and Ariadne, Getty Villa. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Museum, The J. Paul Getty. "Fresco of Dionysos and Ariadne, Getty Villa." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified May 10, 2019.

MLA Style

Museum, The J. Paul Getty. "Fresco of Dionysos and Ariadne, Getty Villa." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 10 May 2019. Web. 01 Apr 2023.