The wedding with the sea

She was all alone. Teseo, her beloved Teseo, had abandoned her on this island. The dangers that she had endured to safe her lover from her fathers’s feared maze, the death of her half-brother, the minotaur, the flight from her home, … What did she endure all these strains for? Ariadne fell asleep, tired and with swollen red eyes. Her last thought went to her disloyal lover.

Ariadne felt a hand that softly caressed her face and her hair. Her first thought went to Teseo until she remembered that he had left her on the island of Naxos. Ariadne opened her eyes and saw a beautiful young man that lovingly looked at her.

The myth around Ariadne’s life indicates this young man as the god Dionysus*. For Dionysus it was love on first sight and so he chose Ariadne as his wife. He took the diadem decorated with precious stones that the princess Ariadne** was wearing and threw it direction sky where we can still admire it in the constellation of the Northern Crown (Corona Borealis).

Jacopo Tintoretto chose the story of Ariadne and Dionysus for his masterpiece located today in the Doge’s Palace.

Source: Wikipedia – Tintoretto: Bacchus, Venus and Ariadne
Let’s have a better look at the painting

On the left we see a beautiful, young, blonde woman sitting on a thrown. The thrown is covered with precious fabrics. She is naked: Only a precious blue fabric covers her hips.

A second beautiful blonde woman – whose face we can’t see as it is averted – hovers on right of Ariadne in the air and holds a golden crown above her head.

On the right a young man, naked, steps out of the floods of the sea. His head and hips are covered in vine leaves. The grape on his hip is a lead by Tintoretto indicating us that this young man is actually the god Dionysus, the god of wine. In his left hand he holds a golden ring between his thumb and index finger.

Tintoretto shows us in his painting the exact moment when Dionysus and Ariadne get married.

But why did Tintoretto choose this story for a painting that was supposed for the Doge’s Palace, the political centre?

Tintoretto celebrated in his painting the myth of Venice, a powerful, Christian state that was ruled with wisdom. According to Carlo Ridolfi (17th century) Tintoretto wanted to communicate the following:

The young girl, Ariadne, symbolizes Venice, the queen of the sea, born right on the beach. Dionysus rises from the sea with a wedding ring symbolizing their union and making Ariadne immortal. Her union is blessed by Venus/Aphrodite who crowns Ariadne with the crown of liberty.

The starry crown, getting itself part of sky, elevates Venice in the rank of immortality. The golden ring refers to the annual festivity of the „Sposalizio del Mare“ (Wedding with the sea) that is celebrated on Ascension Day in May. (You can find more infos on this festivity in my blog here.)

Source: Wikipedia – Canaletto: The Bucintoro’s return on Ascension Day
The painting itself is part of a serial of allegoric paintings that Tintoretto painted for the Serenissima and is located in the Anticollegio of the Doge’s Palace:
  • Nozze di Bacco e Arianna
  • Minerva protegge Pace e Abbondanza da Marte
  • La fucina di Vulcano
  • Mercurio e le tre Grazie

*Bacchus/God of Wine

**Daughter of the king Minos

  •   Beatrice was just wonderful! She made this tour fun for both adults and kids - and we learned so much! Definitely to be recommended!!

    thumb Tonja
    February 19, 2024
  •   Wer in Venedig einen Blick abseits des Tourismus bzw. den großen Plätzen werfen will, denen kann ich die Tour mit Beatrice wirklich ans Herz legen. Gerade vielleicht am Anfang... read more

    thumb Chalin
    February 10, 2024
  •   Wir hatten sehr kurzfristig und spontan eine Tour mit Beatrice buchen können und waren sehr happy über diesen “Glücksgriff”! Sie hat uns wirklich tolle Ecken gezeigt, sehr viel Interessantes erzählt... read more

    thumb Monique
    August 28, 2023
  •   Vielen Dank für den wunderbaren Nachmittag-wunderbare versteckte Ecken in San Marco gesehen und reichlich Tipps für die nächsten Male bekommen wie Museen,Bars usw.

    thumb Jens
    November 8, 2022
  •   We had a total blast at Beatrices tour. She showed us a lot of hidden corners in Venice and we moved off the beaten track. She was super knowledgable, provided... read more

    thumb Tabea
    October 30, 2022
  •   Beatrice hat uns Venedig auf wundervolle Weise ein Stück näher gebracht. Auch mein Sohn war sehr interessiert dabei. Absolut empfehlenswert!!

    thumb Helena
    October 24, 2022
  •   sehr empfehlenswert !!!

    thumb Joachim
    October 24, 2022
  •   Toll!

    thumb Rebecca
    June 13, 2022
  •   Ich kann Beatrice herzlich empfehlen. Sie liebt Venedig, hat viel Wissen darüber und kann es bestens vermitteln, darüber hinaus in Ecken ohne Touristen.

    thumb Ivana
    June 8, 2022
  •   Es war eine sehr schöne Tour und Beatrix konnte wirklich auf jede Frage eine Antwort geben.

    thumb Annette
    May 28, 2022
error: Attention: This content is protected and subject to copyright!