Vine and the Wine in Graphic Arts: engravings and drawings


SANS CERES ET BACCHUS, VENUS POURRAIT PRENDRE FROID Henri Goltzius, 1599/1602 - Museum of Art, Philadelphie / 1

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BACCHANALE II Pablo Picasso, 1955 - Lithographie sur papier vélin d'Arches, 48 x 63 cm / 2

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Nicolas Larmessin II, c. 1695 - BnF, Paris / 3

LE PORT DE NANTES, QUAI DES NÉGOCIANTS, VUE PRISE DEPUIS L’ÎLE GLORIETTE Dessin lavé à l'encre de Chine, attribué à Nicolas Ozanne, XVIIIème siècle - Musée Thomas Dobrée, Nantes / 4

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VIEW OF THE CITY AND THE BRIDGE OF BORDEAUX FROM LA BASTIDE QUAY Louis Garneray, ca. 1830 ?, aquatint - Musée d'Aquitaine, Bordeaux, France / 5

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ALLEGORIE SUR LES ENTREES LIBRES DES BARRIERES D'OCTROI, DECRET DE MAI 1791 Apollon, Mercure, Bacchus et Cérés. Vue fantaisiste de la barrière de la Villette, c. 1786/93 - Musée Carnavalet, Paris

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WITHIN THE PREMISES OF THE WINE MARKET Pen, ink, watercolour, pencil. Pierre François Léonard Fontaine, before 1815 - Carnavalet Museum, Paris / 6

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1. Goltzius illustrates this quotation from the Latin poet Terence (ca. 185-160 BC.): “Without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus would freeze”. In other words, without food and wine, love grows cold. In Roman mythology, Ceres is the goddess of agriculture, harvests and fertility. It is a gigantic "pen-work", an ink-on-canvas drawing transfigured by rosy touches of oil paint. 


2. Linked to the Dionysian mysteries, bacchanals were held in honor of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, drunkenness and excess (especially sexual excess). These fetes were originally held among women in secret on the 16th and 17th March. From this point, the celebrations took place at least three times a year, organised and supervised by respectable matrons.


The bacchanals became public festivals and were celebrated across Greece and Egypt, but principally in Rome. The festivals, which lasted between three and five days according to the region, were organised around theatrical performances which served as religious ceremonies. The bacchanals soon became a pretext for extravagant shows of disorder; such celebrations increasingly turned into night-time orgies of public drunkenness and licentiousness.


The Romans distrusted this orgiastic cult, which planted disorder and posed a risk to the State. Men would feign religious frenzy as the women, wearing the disguise of the festival, ran towards the Tiber with torches. Among the initiated of the sect were certain high-ranking men and women.  It was decided that the bacchanals would only admit under-20s, considered more docile in the context of the wild initiations.


The courtesan Hispala Fecenia revealed the secret of these practices to a young man whom she loved, Publius Aebutius, in order to protect him from his own mother, who wished to initiate him into the mysteries of Bacchus. Publius refused to be initiated, so was thrown out by his mother and stepfather. He sought refuge with one of his aunts, who advised him to share his story with the consul Postumius; after hearing the young man’s account, the consul decided to carry out a secret enquiry. The Senate was deeply troubled, fearing that the sect was a cover for a plot against the Roman republic. It charged its consuls to speak against the bacchanals’ night-time sacrifices, to reward informers and to prevent the initiated from gathering.


The ‘scandal of the bacchanals’ (186 BC) led to a repression of the cult, with around 7000 of those involved condemned to death. A prophetess from the Campania region was said to have organised with her followers a large-scale fraud, leading to murders and extortion. The cult’s leaders were questioned; many of those attached to the movement were tortured, imprisoned or exiled. A senatus-consult banned bacchanals for almost one and a half centuries. The celebrations were reauthorized by Caesar. 

Pour en savoir plus : Galerie "Bacchanales et scènes bachiques" >>


3. “The grotesque costumes of Larmessin are famous today, thanks to the taste for graphic fantasy revived by modern artists... The principle – and the humour – of these drawings is found in the dressing of different working characters in the accessories of their profession. Some of the drawings move away from this by incorporating contemporary fashions; others are German imitations which bear witness to the popularity of such fantasy images.


Despite the Mannerist roots of his whimsical compositions, Larmessin’s invention is absolutely original to the end of the 17th century, and the success of his images is proven by their reproduction for decorative use of today.” (Le Dessin d’humour du XVIe siècle à nos jours. Exhibition catalogue for the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1971).


4. The port of Nantes was considered at the beginning of the 18th century as the first in Europe, frequented each year by some 2,000 ships and boats. It is also the second French port after Bordeaux for the wine trade. It deploys its wine exports to the rest of Brittany (the Breton market absorbs half of the traffic, in strong competition with Bordeaux *), Holland and England. At the same time, and thanks to river transport in both directions, the towns of the Loire maintain intense trade. In the downstream part, Nantes plays a central role. Its "hinterland" extends very far upstream, to Orleans, where the westerly winds carry. Its seaport supplies the Loire basin with salt and products from the colonies (coffee, sugar). Orleans is a relay to Paris, especially for red wines (via the Briare canal and the Loing, a tributary of the Seine), East and Lyonnais. In the opposite direction, Nantes receives from all the Loire basin a lot of wheat and tuffeaux from Anjou, wood, wine (white wines) and many other goods.

5. Le Pont de pierre a été le premier et seul pont routier de Bordeaux de 1822 à 1965. Cette gravure à l'eau forte, de la main de Garneray, est datée de 1830. Y figure, sur le cloché arasé de la tour Saint-Michel, le télégraphe optique de Chappe, installé en 1823. En revanche, le tableau de Garneray, d'où est issu cette aquatinte, datant lui de 1822-1823, est sans le télégraphe. 

L'aval du pont est l'aboutissement du port maritime où se regroupent les grands trois-mâts. L'amont est réservé aux petits navires fluviaux (gabares, couraux et goélettes) qui remontent la Garonne. A droite, un bœuf traîne une barrique sur un chariot et descend la rampe qui conduit au port de la Bastide.

For more information: Gallery "From cellar to port " >>


6. L'Abondance, Bacchus et Cérès entrant dans la capitale (Musée Carnavalet) célèbre la suppression, le 1er mai 1791, des droits payables sur les denrées entrant dans Paris. Au recto de la gravure : "Célébrons à jamais ce beau jour premier Mai, où nos sages législateurs viennent d'abolir les droits d'entrée dans les ville, où la rapacité des fermiers - généraux et celles de leurs agents est atterrée ! / Les peuples jouiront aisément des précieux trésors de la nature ; le pauvre comme le riche s'en procureront avec d'autant plus de facilité, que la crainte effrayante des barrières est an [...] / la race des loups cerviers est détruite, la prospérité renaîtra des mains industrieuses du cultivateur et de l'artiste."


7. The Paris wine market is a former market made up of halls for wine merchants, located in the 5th arrondissement of Paris. Built in the middle of the 17th century on the Quai Saint-Bernard (Port-aux-vins de Paris) to allow access from the Seine, it was rebuilt and considerably enlarged at the beginning of the 19th century. But its means of storage proved insufficient and it could not cope with a transport facilitated by the railroad. The government decided in 1869 to build new warehouses on the other side of the Seine at Bercy. In 1905, the parliament passed a law obliging the big wine merchants of Paris to have a storefront at the Bercy warehouses and the Paris wine market. At the end of the Second World War, on August 26, 1944, the Halle aux Vins was devastated by a fire caused by the bombardments of the Luftwaffe.

* Nantes faced great competition in the Breton market from the Aquitaine wine trade. This competition went from the Bordeaux vineyards to the unloading ports, down to sales to individuals and taverns. The Brittany countryside represented the largest share of this market in the kingdom of France throughout the 18th century. The wines of Bordeaux, Bourg, Blaye and Libourne were particularly popular among Breton consumers. Large ports such as Nantes and Lorient were distribution hubs which allowed Aquitaine wines to be sent towards European and overseas markets, while the secondary ports of Redon, Vannes and Quimper were used as a kind of regional warehouse. Small Blaye, Plassac and Breton coasters brought the Bordeaux wines to Breton ports. Other distributors, both on water and on land, ensured that the wines were distributed to places where they would be consumed. (Source: Bordeaux et la Bretagne au XVIIème siècle, Les routes du vin, Hiroyasu Kimizuka, 2015, Presses universitaires de Rennes). 


 Le port de Bordeaux, 1776                                                                               Nouvelle halle aux vins à Paris, 1815                                                                   L'irruption des bateaux à vapeur, Saumur, 1836

From left to right: 1) Port of Bordeaux (Le Port de Bordeaux, vu devant le Château Trompette sur la Garonne et vu du quai des Farines), shows a view of the port at the time of La Fayette. A barge in the foreground permits the transport of barrels. The embarkations allow goods to be carried between the sloping quay and the large ships. The engraving, illustrating an everyday scene from 1776, is highly evocative. / 2) There has been a wine market on the Quai Saint Bernard since 1662. With wine consumption continuing to rise in the capital, in 1808 it was decided that a larger and more modern market should be built. / 4) After having proven itself in mines and industry, steam power was used on boats from 1818, and on the railways a little later. The first steam-powered vessel would sail through Saumur in 1823. In this 1836 Vue de Saumur, steamboat and barges (one full of barrels) are shown side by side.


From left to right: A man on the ground drinking from a wine skin, F. de Goya, ca. 1812-1820, 20,5 x 14,3 cm, MET, NYC / Woman by the Grapevine, A. Renoir, ca. 1904, 26,7 x 37 cm, lithographs published by Ambroise Vollard, 1919, MoMA, NYC



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