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On the left is, History Portrait #224 (1990), photograph by contemporary artist, Cindy Sherman. On the right, Bacchino Malato (1593 – 94) by the Baroque painter, Michelangelo Merisi da Carravaggio.

Caravaggio’s painting is a self-portrait in which he depicts himself as Bacchino malato or young sick Bacchus. In History Portrait #224, Sherman also uses herself as model, posing as Bacchino malato in imitation of Caravaggio’s painting. Bacchus is the Roman god of wine and intoxication, equated with the Greek god Dionysus. The Bacchanalia, orgies in honor of Dionysus, were introduced in Rome around 200 BC. These infamous celebrations, notorious for their sexual and criminal character, got so out of hand that they were forbidden by the Roman Senate in 186 BC.


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