Art: Fun at the Wedding

Giovanni Bellini's Feast of the Gods has long been a puzzle as well as a masterpiece. The gods look more drunk than divine. Vesta, protector of virgins, lies dozing in one corner of the picture while Priapus fiddles with her skirt. A blowsy Ceres helps Apollo hoist cup to lip. Neptune is paired off with Gaea, who holds a quince —the symbol of marriage. Bacchus appears as a child, and his foster father Silenus looks more like a slender ascetic than a roly-poly satyr. Generations of art scholars have wondered why.

Smith College Professor...

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