Bacchus - by Leonardo da Vinci

The Louvre holds this artwork of Bacchus which some have ascribed to Leonardo. Transferred to canvas at some stage during the nineteenth century others consider it was more likely to have been painted by Cesare da Sesto, Bernazzano, Francesco Melzi or a 'Lombard painter'.

Deterioration of this painting has made it difficult to judge who the painter may have been, but the background does not seem to be typical of Leonardo, lacking his descriptive qualities. On top of this no preliminary studies have been found for this artwork. However, the pointing finger in this painting indicates that whoever the painter really was, the original subject is likely to have been St. John and the painting was originally called St. John the Baptist in the Desert, a name which was later changed to Bacchus in a Landscape.

A number of items were later additions: the panther skin, crown of vine leaves and grapes not being part of the original work. The cross in the crook of St. John's arm also had the bar removed changing it to a thyrsus. (A thyrsus was simply a staff often wreathed in ivy and decorated with pine cones, berries or grapes).