The work of Mannerist sculptor Adriaen de Vries (1556–1626) reached impressive new heights in the last years of his life. Between 1620 and 1626, working in Prague as the court sculptor of the Habsburg emperors, de Vries executed a series of masterful bronzes in which his loose modeling style and his dynamic compositions became fully manifest. This work took place in the midst of a volatile period in the history of Prague, marked by revolts, regime changes, war and a turbulent economy.
The recently discovered de Vries sculpture “The Bacchant” (1626), acquired by the Rijksmuseum in 2014 (the most expensive ancient sculpture ever to change hands at auction), is the high point of this period of late work. Based on new research, this publication uses “The Bacchant” as a focal point for exploring the sculptor’s late work and its tumultuous context.