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The March of Silenus

William Holbrook Beard (American, 1824–1900). The March of Silenus, ca. 1862. Oil on canvas, 45 x 35 inches (114.3 x 88.9 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Subscribers Fund, 1874 (1874:2).

Public Domain

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Public Domain

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Public Domain

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

William Holbrook Beard

American, 1824-1900

The March of Silenus, ca. 1862

oil on canvas

support: 45 x 35 inches (114.3 x 88.9 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

Subscribers Fund, 1874

1874:2

More Details

Inscriptions

signature, dated / lower right / W Beard / 62 [?]

Provenance

the artist;
sold to the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, December 11, 1874

Class

Paintings

Work Type

Oil painting

This information may change due to ongoing research. Glossary of Terms

William Holbrook Beard is best known for his nuanced, allegorical depictions of human behavior, and the delightful characters he created appealed to the mid-nineteenth-century taste for humorous, anecdotal scenes. The March of Silenus is a lively satire of mankind’s folly aimed at exposing social vulgarities. Beard depicts a mock procession in which Silenus, a companion of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, appears as a rotund brown bear accompanied by a troupe of drunken, cavorting accomplices. Goats dance, play musical instruments, and carry grapes while bears can be seen hanging from and hiding behind trees and rolling down the trail in the distance. All are anxious to taste the “nectar of the Gods”—some of them are even poised with their mouths wide open in anticipation.

Label from Menagerie: Animals on View, March 11–June 4, 2017

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