.mw-parser-output .hidden-begin{box-sizing:border-box;width:100%;padding:5px;border:none;font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .hidden-title{font-weight:bold;line-height:1.6;text-align:left}.mw-parser-output .hidden-content{text-align:left}@media all and (max-width:500px){.mw-parser-output .hidden-begin{width:auto!important;clear:none!important;float:none!important))You can help expand this article with text translated from the corresponding article in French. (December 2021) Click [show] for important translation instructions. Machine translation, like DeepL or Google Translate, is a useful starting point for translations, but translators must revise errors as necessary and confirm that the translation is accurate, rather than simply copy-pasting machine-translated text into the English Wikipedia. Do not translate text that appears unreliable or low-quality. If possible, verify the text with references provided in the foreign-language article. You must provide copyright attribution in the edit summary accompanying your translation by providing an interlanguage link to the source of your translation. A model attribution edit summary is Content in this edit is translated from the existing French Wikipedia article at [[:fr:Le Petit Bacchus malade]]; see its history for attribution. You may also add the template ((Translated|fr|Le Petit Bacchus malade)) to the talk page. For more guidance, see Wikipedia:Translation.
Young Sick Bacchus
Yearc. 1593
Mediumoil on canvas
Dimensions67 cm × 53 cm (26 in × 21 in)
LocationGalleria Borghese, Rome

The Young Sick Bacchus (Italian: Bacchino Malato), also known as the Sick Bacchus or the Self-Portrait as Bacchus, is an early self-portrait by the Baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, dated between 1593 and 1594. It now hangs in the Galleria Borghese in Rome. According to Caravaggio's first biographer, Giovanni Baglione, it was a cabinet piece painted by the artist using a mirror.[1]


The painting dates from Caravaggio's first years in Rome following his arrival from his native Milan in mid-1592. Sources for this period are inconclusive and probably inaccurate, but they agree that at one point the artist fell extremely ill and spent six months in the hospital of Santa Maria della Consolazione.[citation needed] According to a 2009 article in the American medical publication Clinical Infectious Diseases, the painting indicates that Caravaggio's physical ailment likely involved malaria, as the jaundiced appearance of the skin and the icterus in the eyes are indications of some active hepatic disease causing high levels of bilirubin.[2] According to Paolo Zamboni professor of Vascular Surgery at University of Ferrara, the obvious signs of anemia, yellow skin, and acanthosis nigricans lead back to the diagnosis in painting of Addison's disease, a condition described by Addison in the 1800s that affects the adrenal glands.[3][4]

The Sick Bacchus was among the many works making up the collection of Giuseppe Cesari, one of Caravaggio's early employers, which was seized by the art-collector Cardinal-Nephew Scipione Borghese in 1607, together with the Boy Peeling Fruit and Boy with a Basket of Fruit.


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Apart from its assumed autobiographical content, this early painting was likely used by Caravaggio to market himself, demonstrating his virtuosity in painting genres such as still-life and portraits and hinting at the ability to paint the classical figures of antiquity. The three-quarters angle of the face was among those preferred for late renaissance portraiture, but what is striking is the grimace and tilt of the head, and the very real sense of the suffering; a feature that most Baroque art shares.

The still-life can be compared with that contained in slightly later works such as the Boy With a Basket of Fruit and the Boy Bitten by a Lizard where the fruits are in a much better condition, reflecting no doubt Caravaggio's improved condition, both physically and mentally.

The painting shows the influence of his teacher, the Bergamasque Simone Peterzano, in the utilization of the tensed musculature depiction, and of the austere Lombard school style in its attention to realistic details.


Cindy Sherman, as part of her History Portrait series (1989–90), produced a parody on Sick Bacchus, an ironic photographic self-portrait named Untitled # 224.[5]

During a 2018 NPR interview, Paul Janeway of the band St. Paul & the Broken Bones said that the title of his band's new album, Young Sick Camellia, is an homage to Caravaggio's Young Sick Bacchus (camellias being the state flower of the band's home state, Alabama).[6]

See also

Further reading


  1. ^ Hibbard, Howard (1985). Caravaggio. Oxford: Westview Press. p. 19. ISBN 9780064301282.
  2. ^ IDSA (Jan 1, 2009). "Clinical Infectious Diseases" (PDF). Clinical Infectious Disease. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ "Diagnosi su tela: le grandi malattie dipinte dei pittori del passato". 27 June 2020.
  4. ^ Corriere della Sera Corriere Salute, pp. 10 e 11 Giovedì 18 Giugno 2020
  5. ^ Kimberlee A. Cloutier-Blazzard, Cindy Sherman: Her “History Portrait” Series as Post-Modern Parody, Bread and Circus, 29 July 2007
  6. ^ "The Family Blood Of St. Paul & The Broken Bones". NPR.org. September 8, 2018. Retrieved September 11, 2018.