Found at Naxos. Henry Wallis. Exhibited Royal Academy 1874. Oil on canvas. Source of image: The 1878 Art-Journal. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Art-Journal Commentary

This picture was exhibited at the London Royal Academy in 1874. Why Mr. Wallis intimated that the little bronze figure which gives the work its title was "found at Naxos" we do not quite see. There were three places of this name known to the ancients, but neither of them appears to have been celebrated for artistic productions. The most famous of the three was an island, one of the large Cyclades in the Ægean Sea, about half-way between the coast of Greece and Asia Minor. It was taken by the Athenians in the time of Pisistratus, about five hundred years before the Christian era, and subsequently fell under the dominion of the Venetians, who built the castle of Naxia, the chief town of the island, and made it the residence of their dukes. The principal deity of Naxos was Bacchus, in whose honour a temple was erected there, it being, as stated by some ancient writers, the place where he was educated, and held in much honour. The artist has associated his picture with Venetian history. A sailor of that country presents a small bronze, which is assumed to have been "found at Naxos"— the title Mr. Wallis gave to the composition—to the Venetian noblemen, who are examining the "antique" with wonder and admiration. Whomever the figure may represent, it is clearly not Bacchus, nor can we definitely identify it with any one of the numerous personages in the long catalogue of classic deities. As was said of the picture when it hung on the walls of the Academy, "Mr. Wallis has not striven to present a picture of deeply significant meaning: he has only embodied certain types of national character in a graceful composition. There is just enough in the idea to create a certain fascination, imitative in some sort of that exercised over the two men attracted by the beauty of the small bronze. The composition is true and unforced. In the attitudes of the two figures there is no exaggeration, and the scheme of colour is a delicate harmony of warm tints carefully distributed over the space of the picture." It is a picture of simple yet inviting composition. [282]

Bibliography

“Our Steel Engravings: ’Found at Naxos.’” Art-Journal. (1878): 282


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