I - Bacchus and Ariadne at Naxos (1656)
The title of this fascinating painting is not by the artist. The queen or goddess who turns around, incensed, when she discovers a man lurking in the shadows, does not seem to correspond to the abandoned Ariadne, even less to Nausicaa, as has been suggested. But if the fable escapes us today, a splendid drama is played out on the canvas. Locus terribilis: the sea is dark green and bristling with waves, the trees threaten us, the coast is full of cracks and shadows. The intruder will be punished. It seemed natural to me to write this study in a typically romantic language, more apt than others to express exacerbated passions: tense chromaticism, lyrical flights, worried rhythms, plaintive semitones.
II - Seaside with Apollo and the Sybil of Cumae (ca. 1646-1647)
The subject is taken from book 14 of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Apollo, in love with the sybil, offers to grant her her dearest wish. She grabs a handful of dust and asks the god to live as long as there are grains in her hand. However, the sibyl did not specify that she wanted to remain always young. She will therefore be consumed eternally and all that will remain of her is the sound of her voice. Although it expresses the finitude of all things, this painting is a sweet and ecstatic song: locus amœnus. A golden light floods the sky and the bay, a light breeze seems to run over the sea and animate the autumnal foliage of the trees, Apollo and the sibyl are two innocent souls in the peace of the world. The interval of fourth, with its "white", uncertain color, reigns supreme in this study, and the dotted rhythms suggest space, the wind, the movement of the waves