July 3, 2016

Bacchus by Michael van der Voort

taken at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire.

By In Photographs
A hastily captured photo of Baachus taken at Blenheim Palace last weekend. Hastily as a coach-discourged hoard of Koreans (or maybe Japanese) were being herded in my direction, down the narrow corridor where this statue sits.

The statue is labelled as being by Michael Vandervoort erly 18th Century. Van der Voort lived in Antwerp from his birth in January 1667 until his death in December 1737. He did travel to Rome and joined the ‘Bentvueghels’. The Bentvueghels (Dutch for “Birds of a Feather”) were a society of mostly Dutch and Flemish artists active in Rome from about 1620 to 1720.

“The members, which included painters, etchers, sculptors and poets, all lived in different parts of the city (mostly the parishes of Santa Maria del Popolo and San Lorenzo in Lucina in the north of the city) and came together for social and intellectual reasons. The group was well known for its drunken, Bacchic initiation rituals (paid for by the initiate). These celebrations, sometimes lasting up to 24 hours, concluded with group marching to the church of Santa Costanza, known popularly at the time as the Temple of Bacchus. There they made libations to Bacchus before the porphyry sarcophagus of Constantina, which was considered to be his tomb because of its Bacchic motifs. A list of its members may still be seen in one of this church’s side chapels. This practice was finally banned by Pope Clement XI in 1720.”

Statue of Bacchus by Michael van der Voort

Statue of Bacchus by Michael van der Voort at Blenheim Palace

Statue of Bacchus by Michael van der Voort at Blenheim Palace

Van der Voort isnt listed on the Wikipedia list of members however and a reference I found lists his club name as ‘Welgaemaeckt’, which apparently means ‘disgusting needs’!

Between 1690 and 1693 he travelled to Italy, visiting Rome and Naples. In Rome he became a member of the Bentvueghels and his Bent name was Welgemaeckt. HIs name appears in one of the niches of the Santa Costanza. In red chalk is written: michael vandervoort/alias welgae/maeckt.

Back in Antwerp, Michiel van der Voort married Elisabeth Verberckt and they had five children. The majority of Van der Voort’s commissions were for religious works, mostly church furnishings in various materials. His memorial statues, for which he drew on the knowledge he had acquired in Rome of Hellenistic statues, were classical and simple, but he is also known for his more Baroque designs. http://www.hadrianus.it

More photos from the photowalk around Blenheim Palace are on Lumination.

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