And again, without his assistance and that of his adjuncts, the base of the picture would be concave, which at all hazards had to be avoided. You will see in diagram B, sketched without him, that not only is such concavity weak, but that here it repeats throughout the arc of the upper line—which is still more objectionable ! The little fellow, however, comes along with his calf's head and his barking dog, and the difficulty of the base line is removed ; and then he cuts through the chariot wheel, which, were he not in front of it, would be an almost isolated curve too near the centre of the composition.
Titian was no doubt jubilant when the inspiration of the little imp came to him ; and that must account for its joyous handling.
The satyr with the raised calf's hock and the fat Silenus against his head, made beautiful by his pattern, not only lift up the line that would otherwise descend too symmetrically, but add the note of accident which makes for the gaiety and movement of the picture. When a figure in a composition moves as the Bacchus does, everything has to move. One unresponsive figurant would be enough to spoil the party.
The foreshortened pointing arm of Bacchus conducts all the lines into the picture—a, subtle and satisfying factor. His descending foot cuts well through the wheel. Were this foot only to meet the upper curve, its owner would never alight, but would appear to be standing on it.
BACCHUS AND ARIADNE