Bacchante Threatened 1959
Harold Town, Bacchante Threatened by a Panther, 1959
Brush and ink on paper, 56.5 x 76.1 cm
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
Robert Fulford wrote about Town’s inspirations: “Since he was an adolescent, and perhaps earlier than that, Town has been fascinated by history and mythology.... He took to Greek mythology in high school and ... became fascinated with Elizabeth I—and both of these interests persist today.”
In this rapid, assured brush drawing Town tests his mastery of the idealized classical figure within the Western tradition, taking his cue from the neoclassical etchings and brush drawings of Pablo Picasso (1881–1973). It is one of a group of drawings in which Town riffs on Bacchanalian scenes by artists such as Titian (c. 1488–1576) and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796–1875), creating a series of increasingly violent erotic fantasies. Two of these drawings are in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Erotic experience and relations between the sexes would be recurring themes for him. In later drawings of Amazons and in the Enigma series, he went on to adapt the allegorical potential of classical myth to convey more specifically contemporary experience.